Alimony Vermont is among the many financial issues spouses have to deal with during divorce or separation in the state. Usually, the final divorce order will equitably divide marital property.

Further, the divorce order determines the obligation for marital debt. Most importantly, it determines whether spousal support will be awarded. The article will cover the various aspects of spousal support, including guidelines for alimony.

How To Calculate Spousal Support Vermont

The conventional way for courts to calculate spousal support in the state is to consider a couple of factors like the financial resources of the spouses, duration of the marriage, health conditions, and more. Courts in Vermont have a huge deal of discretion in deciding the appropriate amount and duration of alimony.

– Amount of Alimony

Courts will consider the relevant factors mentioned above in determining how much support to award the requesting spouse. Here is the full list of the factors considered by courts:

  • The financial resources of the requesting spouse, including the property, apportioned to them after division.
  • The ability of the requesting spouse to independently meet their needs.
  • The time and cost of acquiring education or training to enable the requesting spouse to find employment.
  • The spouses’ standards of living during the marriage.
  • The duration of the couple’s marriage.
  • The age of each spouse.
  • The physical and emotional condition of spouses.
  • The capability of the other spouse to meet their reasonable needs without undue hardship while paying spousal support.
  • The impact of retirement on the incomes of both spouses.
  • Adjustment for inflation.

Where the court awards property for income generation instead of maintenance, you can expect a lower amount of alimony.

Such factor as the length of the marriage also affects the amount of alimony. Judges will likely order lower amounts of alimony or no alimony at all for short-term marriages.

– Duration of Alimony

Vermont alimony laws provide that courts consider the percentage difference in the spouses’ gross income when calculating alimony durations. However, this guideline was repealed as of July 1, 2021. The table below shows these spousal support guidelines.

 Length of the Marriage

% Difference in Spouses’ Gross Incomes

Duration of Spousal support (As a % of the marriage duration)

 0 to less than 5 years

0 to 16% No alimony or support for no more than a year

 5 to less than 10 years

12 to 29%

20 to 50% (1 to 5 years)

 10 to less than 15 years

16 to 33%

40 to 60% (4 to 9 years)

 15 to less than 20 years

20 to 37%

40 to 70% (6 to 14 years)

 20 or more years 24 to 41%

45% (9 to 20 or more years)

There are three types of spousal support that can be ordered for different purposes and duration:

  • Temporary support refers to maintenance that is awarded to the lower-earning spouse to provide them with the financial support necessary to get by during the divorce process. Alimony laws in Vermont provide that obligation to pay temporary maintenance ends upon the finalization of a divorce.
  • Rehabilitative maintenance is the commonest type of spousal support in Vermont. It is usually short-term, and judges award it to financially needy spouses with the potential to become self-supporting.
  • Permanent support is rarely ordered by judges in Vermont. However, it is reserved for cases where the dependent spouse can’t engage in any meaningful work due to a disability or advanced age.

According to these guidelines, spouses who have a shorter marriage are less likely to get alimony or may only get alimony for a short time. For longer marriages, spousal support is likely to continue for longer durations.

How To Pay Alimony in Vermont

A payor spouse is most likely ordered to make periodic payments (commonly monthly) for alimony to their financially dependent spouse. This is because most supporting spouses have a steady income or regular paycheck. As such, payments can be made regularly and on an ongoing basis.

An order for periodic support payment may include an income withholding order. This directs the payor spouse’s employer to withhold maintenance payments from the payor’s income and forward it to the supported spouse or the court.

In cases where the payor spouse is self-employed or lacks a steady paycheck, a judge may order lump-sum alimony payments. Further, the spouse may be required to transfer title to personal or real property as a form of spousal maintenance payment.

How To Avoid Paying Alimony in Vermont

The two legal ways of avoiding the obligation to pay alimony are modifying and terminating alimony. Either spouse can request the court to revise spousal maintenance upwards or downwards, depending on the circumstances. In turn, a court can approve or reject the request based on a change in circumstances.

– Modification of Alimony

Unless a settlement agreement states otherwise, either spouse can petition the court to modify a support order. Before the court changes a maintenance order, the requesting spouse must show that there has been a real, material, and unanticipated change of circumstances since the issuance of the last alimony order.

For instance, the payor spouse may involuntarily lose their job, which was paying $70,000 but quickly land another paying $50,000. In this case, the judge may modify the support order to accommodate the income decrease.

In such cases, the onus is on the requesting spouse to prove why the current alimony award is unjust and should be modified. Even after submitting a formal request for alimony modification, the payor spouse should continue making payments as per the current order.

– Termination of Alimony

Unlike other states, Vermont spousal maintenance doesn’t automatically terminate upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse. Instead, the payor spouse should request a review of alimony if the other spouse remarries or cohabits with another party in a marriage-like relationship.

Upon review, the court can terminate alimony if the supported spouse’s cohabitation or remarriage significantly improves the financial situation of the recipient spouse.

FAQ

– Who Qualifies for Alimony in Vermont?

Either spouse may qualify for spousal maintenance in a divorce as it is gender-neutral. Yet, a court will need the requesting spouse to demonstrate a need for support by showing that:

  • They lack sufficient income or income-generating property to provide for their reasonable needs.
  • They are unable to become self-supporting through employment at the living standard established during their marriage.
  • They are the custodial of a child they got during the marriage.

– What Are the Types of Maintenance Available in Vermont?

Depending on a couple’s financial situation, judges in Vermont may award temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent support.

Temporary support is awarded to the lower-earning spouse only during the divorce process.

Rehabilitative maintenance is meant to support a spouse who needs education or job training necessary to place them back on the job market. The court will determine a reasonable duration for such a space to become self-supporting and consequently place an end date on this type of support.

If the supported spouse needs more time to attain financial independence, they can request the court to review and possibly extend the duration of rehabilitative maintenance.

Permanent support may also be ordered if there is a huge difference between spouses’ income and one spouse was unemployed for a lengthy period.

The court will also consider other extenuating circumstances that may warrant an award for permanent support. Usually, this support continues indefinitely until it is reviewed and the court finds that it is no longer necessary.

– Is My Support Award Subject To Tax Deductions?

It depends. For alimony orders issued before January 1, 2019, recipient spouses have to report maintenance as an income and pay taxes. Supporting spouses can also deduct support payments on their taxes.

However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed in 2017 and became effective on January 1, 2019, removed the reporting requirements of maintenance payments and the tax-deduction benefit.

– Should I Work With a Lawyer During My Divorce?

Not always. Some divorce cases may not require a lawyer or attorney as they could be less contested, meaning that spouses agree to most, if not all, of the matters related to divorce.

Rather than hire an attorney, spouses who are keen to end their marriage without litigation are better off working with a mediator. These professionals help spouses work out their differences and come up with a fair settlement agreement.

However, you are likely to go to court if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can’t agree on some matters of your divorce. In this case, it makes sense to work with a lawyer or attorney who understands Vermont divorce laws.

Conclusion

With divorce comes various financial issues, including property division and the possibility of providing spousal maintenance. We’ve looked at the guidelines for calculating alimony amounts and durations in Vermont, so let’s wrap up the discussion by outlining the main points:

  • Spousal maintenance amounts are calculated based on several relevant factors.
  • Previously, the calculation of support duration was mainly based on the length of the marriage and the difference in the gross incomes of spouses.
  • In Vermont, the remarriage or continued cohabitation of the supported spouse doesn’t automatically terminate maintenance as it doesn’t always mean more financial security.
  • Depending on your circumstances, a Vermont court can award you temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent spousal maintenance.

If your spouse was financially dependent on you during the marriage, a court might find it reasonable for you to pay Vermont spousal support upon filing or finalization of the divorce. However, you can agree to provide your spouse with spousal maintenance and write the terms of alimony in a settlement agreement. This would prevent giving the court all the power to decide your alimony matters.

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Divorce & Finance