In a Washington, DC divorce case, alimony is often one of the issues that can lead to the most contention. The reason is obvious, since we are dealing potentially with a lot of money and possibly of lot of anger and other personal feelings. One thing to keep in mind is that the court tends to look at the merits on whether alimony should be awarded from the perspective of both parties.
One valid reason that a spouse would claim alimony is if he or she had chosen to stop working or work a reduced schedule so that he or she could stay home and take care of the family. This means that the spouse passed up opportunities for potential salary increases and education for the benefit of the family and, as result of that, may need time to get back on his or her feet. It is also important to take into account what it would have cost the parties to hire a professional to do the services provided by the non-working spouse, as the court will likely include such information when fashioning an alimony order.
On the other hand, a spouse who may be asked to pay alimony, which is also called spousal support, may have a valid argument that their spouse simply did not want to work or contribute to the household and took a voluntary reduction in income with no benefit to the marriage. This is a defense to a petition for alimony in some cases in Washington, DC.
Pursuant to the DC Code, there court will look at a variety of factors when making a determination as to whether an alimony award is proper, and, if so, how much should be awarded. Alimony can be paid as one-time lump sum award, paid in monthly installments, or both.
The factors that the court will typically consider pursuant to the DC Code are as follows:
• The standard of living established during the marriage.
• The length of the marriage. It should be noted that if the parties had entered into a same-sex domestic partnership prior to a time when same-sex marriage was legal, the court will construe the domestic partnership the same as a marriage for alimony purposes.
• Tax issues pertaining to the spousal support. There is no question that taxes play an important role in this decision, and the court will take this into account in many cases.
• The health of each party (physical and mental). A party with special needs may require additional support following the dissolution of a marriage.
• The parties’ relative ages.
• The reason the parties are seeking a divorce. While Washington, DC is a no-fault divorce jurisdiction, fault grounds may come into play when making a spousal support determination. This can become important, especially if one spouse was having an affair and used marital assets, such as paying for trips and hotel rooms while the parties were still married without the other party’s consent or knowledge.
These are some of the factors that a court will use, but every case is unique, so you speak with an experienced Washington, DC alimony lawyer about your actual situation.
If you need assistance with a divorce case or any other family law matter in the District of Columbia or Maryland, please contact the Law Offices of Daniel A. Gross for a consultation.