Alimony Alaska provides a way for courts in the state to bring financial equity whenever married couples decide to end their marriage. Yet, such couples could include the provision for alimony in their divorce settlement agreement. Before a spouse is granted alimony, they have to meet certain requirements.
In this post, we discuss eligibility for alimony, the types available, and changing an alimony order in Alaska.
How To Calculate Alimony in Alaska
In Alaska, there is no particular formula used by courts to calculate alimony in Alaska.
Alimony, better known as spousal support in Alaska, refers to a payment made by one spouse for the financial support of the other. In determining if a spouse is eligible for a spousal support award, a court will consider several factors as outlined below:
- The duration of the marriage. If spouses have been married for a short time (less than one year), it is less likely that spousal support will be awarded
- The age and health of each spouse
- The earning ability of each spouse
- Each spouse’s financial situation, including earnings, assets, and debts
- The work experience, employment skills, education background, and training of each spouse
- The amount of time either spouse has been out of the job market
- The custodial duties and responsibilities in the case of minor children in the marriage
- Property available to each spouse after the division of marital property
- The cost and availability of health insurance for each spouse
- Each spouse’s marital conduct, including adultery or willful and unreasonable depletion of marital property
- Any other factor deemed relevant by the court
In Alaska, alimony can be ordered before or after the final divorce judgment, or both. Yet, Alaska courts order spousal support for a particular purpose and a limited period.
– Amount of Alimony
Judges have wide discretion when deciding the amount and duration of a support award. Like eligibility, a judge will likely consider the factors outlined above to determine the amount, type, and duration of the award.
– Duration of Alimony
If awarded, this type of spousal support ends when the final divorce decree is issued. It means that the duration of these awards depends on the duration of the divorce case.
– Alaska Alimony Laws
In many marriages, one of the spouses earns significantly more than the other as they have a higher-paying job or more assets. As such, spousal support in Alaska is awarded for the sole purpose of ensuring that both parties have the financial capacity to meet their needs post-divorce. Alaska alimony laws require that all spousal support awards be equitable and necessary.
The notion that only the female spouse can receive alimony has been long-standing. However, either spouse can request alimony in the event of a divorce or legal separation. A spouse can apply for alimony in the initial divorce petition or the response to the petition. Yet, the court will only grant such a request if the spouse in question proves a need for financial support, and the ability of the other to pay.
– Spousal Agreements and Support
Alaska marriage laws allow for spouses to create agreements regarding spousal support and other issues. Spouses can agree on the various aspects of support, including the amount, duration, and method of payment, and put it in writing. Provided the terms of the agreement are fair, courts will likely honor such agreements and spouses don’t have to rely on the decision of the court regarding support.
– Adultery and Spousal Support Award in Alaska
A question that often comes up in divorce and alimony discussions is:
Does cheating affect spousal support?
Adultery is a common cause of divorce and often leads to a very emotional termination of a marriage. In Alaska, adultery will likely affect the outcome of a divorce, including an award for spousal support.
Alaska divorce laws provide for both no-fault and fault-based divorce. In a fault-based divorce, the petitioning spouse cites the marital misconduct of the other spouse as the reason for the breakdown of their marriage. Under the divorce laws of Alaska, adultery is an acceptable ground for divorce.
While adultery may be a reason for divorce in Alaska, it doesn’t affect spousal support, in and of itself. This is because alimony laws of Alaska state that judges must not consider marital fault when deciding spousal support issues. As such, adultery will most likely have an indirect effect on spousal support. For instance, a judge will consider if the cheating spouse drained a shared bank account to finance the affair with gifts and trips.
How To Pay Alimony
When a court determines that you qualify to get alimony in Alaska, it orders the obligor to make payments. Such payments could be periodic or lump-sum payments, or in the form of property. In most cases, Alaska courts order regular support payments (usually monthly) by directly deducting from the obligor’s paycheck.
Normally, courts insert an income withholding order in the final support order.
This order requires that the obligor’s employer redirect the amount for spousal support to the supported spouse.
Due to the lack of large fund reserves, lump-sum payments aren’t common as a form of support payment in Alaska. However, spouses who have enough funds to make a one-time payment can do so. Lump-sum payments eliminate the need for ongoing payments as well as an income withholding order.
– Spousal Support Alaska Spouses Can Get
Spousal support awards in Alaska can be broadly categorized as short-term and long-term. However, a judge will most likely award temporary, rehabilitation, or reorientation support.
Temporary Spousal Support
Also known as temporary relief, this is a type of spousal support that may be awarded to a spouse who requires financial help while the divorce process is ongoing. Since the divorce process can take long before completion, there may be a need for financial support while spouses live apart and separate. For lower-earning spouses, temporary spousal support is necessary to cover their reasonable needs while the final divorce judgment is pending.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support
In some marriages, the lower-earning spouse often gives up their opportunity to get an education or build up a career for the sake of the other spouse. One of the spouses could also be the homemaker, missing out on the opportunity to advance their education or career. This is especially the case in long-term marriages.
In such cases, a judge may order rehabilitative spousal support to help the lower-earning spouse gain an education or job training, or regain skills necessary to get a job and become self-sufficient after divorce. To get rehabilitative support, the requesting spouse has to show the court their specific employment objective, and how they plan to achieve it.
Durations for rehabilitative support vary, but mainly depend on how long it takes for the requesting spouse to acquire an education or complete a training program to start a new job.
Reorientation Spousal Support
Alimony laws in Alaska also provide for a type of support known as reorientation support. As the name goes, this type of support is meant to help the lower-earning spouse adjust to a one-income household following a divorce or legal separation.
Reorientation support typically lasts one year or less. This type of support is mainly awarded where the marital property of a couple isn’t sufficient to meet the financial needs of both spouses after the split-up.
How To Avoid Paying Alimony
One of the legal ways of avoiding paying alimony to your ex-spouse is petitioning the court to terminate or modify the alimony order.
– Modification of Alimony
Unless a spousal agreement precludes modification of alimony, Alaska spousal support can be modified in the future upon the request of either spouse. However, a spouse who requests modification must show that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the last spousal support order.
– Termination of Alimony
Remarriage of the recipient spouse often warrants modification or termination of spousal support. The death of either spouse almost always terminates spousal support. If the recipient spouse cohabits with another person, the obligor has to show that the relationship constitutes a significant change of circumstances before the previous award is reviewed.
Besides the emotional turmoil, termination of marriage can also have hefty financial implications. The higher-earning spouse may be ordered by the court to pay alimony to support the other spouse. If you are not familiar with Alaska spousal maintenance, here is a rundown of the alimony discussion in Alaska:
- Spousal support can be ordered by the court or couples can agree on alimony matters and put it in writing through a spousal agreement
- The main types of support in Alaska are temporary, rehabilitative, and reorientation spousal support
- Spousal support can be modified or terminated if a spouse proves that there has been a significant change of circumstances since the last award
- Adultery can affect alimony awards indirectly as a judge will consider whether a spouse misused marital property to finance the infidelity
Spouses who may need financial assistance after divorce can request the court to order alimony. In other cases, spouses could agree to alimony terms and write an agreement to avoid litigation.
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