Alimony in Kansas may be awarded to a lower-earning spouse who proves the need for financial support. It is meant to help such a spouse meet their financial needs in the short term and become financially self-supporting in the long term.
Alimony is a broad legal topic, so we provided this comprehensive article to help you understand the most important aspects of spousal support.
The Basics of Alimony
Alimony is also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance. It refers to financial support that one spouse pays to the other, agreed through negotiations or ordered by a court.
Back in time, alimony was paid by the husband to the wife, who was the homemaker and stayed out of the workforce. Today, spousal support is no longer gender-specific — any spouse can request support depending on their circumstances.
The emotional part of divorce is usually tough for both spouses, but the shift to a single-income household can also result in financial strain for a spouse. It is for this reason that a judge may include a financial provision to address matters of spousal support going forward.
Types of Spousal Support Kansas Spouses Can Get
Depending on the financial circumstances of a spouse, a family court may award temporary, short-term, or long-term (permanent) alimony. Temporary alimony is awarded to the receiving spouse while a divorce is pending. Typically, temporary spousal support ends when the judge issues the final divorce decree. While it’s hard to give a figure for average alimony in Kansas, it is safe to say that most awards are temporary.
When issuing the decree of divorce, a judge will determine whether it is appropriate to award short-term alimony. If the requesting spouse still needs support after divorce, the judge will likely award short-term transition alimony. Transition support helps the receiving spouse adjust to a single household lifestyle and be able to meet their financial needs. As such, this type of alimony only lasts several months (about six months).
In some divorce cases, a court may determine that the requesting spouse qualifies for short-term rehabilitative alimony. This is particularly the case for spouses who earn less than their actual earning capacity due to handling household chores and raising the children. Such spouses may lack the necessary education credits or work training to help them get suitable employment. Rehabilitative alimony gives financial support to such spouses as they take steps towards re-entering the workforce.
Permanent alimony is rarely awarded in divorce cases in Kansas. Long-term spousal support is only awarded if a judge establishes that advanced age, health issues or disability hinders a spouse from working. This type of spousal support ends when the receiving spouse remarries or the paying spouse dies.
Qualification for Alimony
In determining whether to award spousal support, a court will consider the following factors:
- The requesting spouse’s need for financial support
- The other spouse’s financial ability to pay
Either spouse can request spousal support, regardless of gender, provided these two requirements are met. Further, a court will evaluate the following factors to decide whether maintenance is appropriate:
- The length of the marriage
- The financial resources and circumstances of each spouse, including assets, income, and debts
- The couple’s marital living standard
- Each spouse’s age, physical, emotional, and mental health
- The contributions of each spouse towards the marriage
- The ability of the paying spouse to meet their financial needs while paying spousal support
- The estimated time for the receiving spouse to acquire the essential education or vocational training to get a suitable job and become financially independent.
How Is Alimony in Kansas Awarder
In Kansas, judges have wide latitude when ordering maintenance, and no single factor can influence their decision. The court may award alimony in an amount it finds fair, just and equitable in light of all circumstances. Further, it will take into account all the important considerations before deciding the type, amount and duration of alimony.
Alimony laws in Kansas provide that spousal maintenance can be negotiated or judicially ordered. When talking about divorce matters, spouses may negotiate spousal maintenance as part of their marital settlement agreement. In many cases, the attorneys representing both spouses will coordinate the negotiation process and advise their clients on the best legal moves.
If spouses are unable to reach an agreement about alimony, the matter will go to court. The requesting spouse will file a motion requesting a family court judge to make a decision regarding spousal support. The judge will consider all relevant factors and decide whether an alimony award is justified. If it is, they decide the amount, payment schedule, and the duration of alimony.
Calculating Alimony Payments in Kansas
The 121 month rule guides judges in Kansas when deciding the duration and amount of support to award. However, a judge can review and reevaluate the award after the initial 121 months if the original court order allowed it. Following the review, a judge may order additional spousal support if need be. Unless spouses agreed otherwise, it is rare for alimony in Kansas to exceed this time limit.
When calculating the amount of alimony, many counties in Kansas have come up with guidelines to help in the determination of a spousal support award. These guidelines help determine the methods that can be employed by a county in calculating support. However, they are not binding to the court. That means there is no single formula used to calculate alimony in Kansas.
For instance, in Johnson County, family courts calculate spousal maintenance as one-fifth of the difference in the incomes of the spouses. Spousal support in this county is payable for a duration equivalent to one-third of the length of the marriage. When calculating alimony, courts will also consider whether the non-custodial parent is paying child support.
Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support
Under Kansas alimony laws, a court can’t increase or accelerate payment of unpaid alimony beyond what was ordered in the original decree. However, the court retains jurisdiction to hear subsequent motions for reinstatement of spousal support.
Like the amount, parties should also specify the period that maintenance will be paid. They should also agree on the events that would warrant the modification or termination of alimony. Unless an agreement states otherwise, spousal support should end upon the first of the following events:
- Death of either party
- Remarriage of the receiving party
- The expiration of the agreed-upon term of alimony (assuming all alimony payments were made when due)
Spouses may also negotiate cohabitation contingencies. Such cases include the cohabitation of the receiving spouse with a non-relative adult (of either sex) in a marriage-like relationship.
Payment of Spousal Support
Spouses may pay alimony in a lump-sum, period payments, or with a portion of their income. In most cases, courts will order monthly spousal support payments. Unless spouses agree otherwise, the court requires the paying spouse to make support payments to the Kansas Payment Center (KPC). This local government agency is the central unit for support payments collection and disbursement.
The receiving spouse has to open an account with KPC and may choose to receive the monthly support payments as a check, direct deposit or reloadable debit card. The court facilitates payments by issuing an income withholding order. This order directs the employer of the paying spouse to deduct support payments from their paycheck.
Enforcement of Spousal Support
Maintenance payment is court-ordered, and habitual missed payments may result in a judgment against the paying spouse. The court may enforce the judgment by possible charge with contempt of court, garnishment of wages and seizure of bank accounts and other non-exempt property.
If the paying spouse is found guilty of contempt, they may be punished by a jail term, fines, attorney fees or loss of a driver’s or professional license. In the alimony order, the court reserves jurisdiction to exercise contempt powers over the defaulting spouse. The court may issue a summons, and the paying spouse is expected to explain why they are violating the court order.
It is also important to note that spousal support is a domestic support obligation. As such, it isn’t dischargeable in bankruptcy — your alimony payment can’t be “forgiven” after filing for bankruptcy.
Tax and Spousal Support Payment
Until January 1, 2019, paying spouses would deduct support payments for tax purposes. The receiving spouse was also expected to report the payment as an income and pay taxes. With the new tax laws, deductions on payments are no longer available, and the recipient mustn’t pay taxes on the payment.
Kansas spouses seeking to end their marriage will likely discuss alimony matters. So, what should such spouses know about maintenance before starting negotiations? Here are the main things:
- Spousal support isn’t guaranteed under Kansas divorce laws.
- Alimony award depends on a spouse’s need for support and the ability of the other to pay.
- Spouses may agree on alimony issues through negotiations or a judge will decide whether to award alimony.
- In Kansas, the payment duration of alimony will likely not exceed 121 months.
- A material change in the circumstances of either party may warrant modification or termination of the award.
Alimony may be awarded if one spouse is likely to face financial challenges after divorce. In the absence of an agreement, a court will award spousal support in a way it deems just, fair and equitable for both spouses.
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