Spousal support, better known as alimony, is separate from child support and occurs when one spouse makes money payments to the other spouse for support. This means that, although the two parties are divorced or in the process of getting a divorce, they are still connected financially. Alimony can be awarded during divorce proceedings, as well as for some time after the divorce becomes final. A spouse can either pay alimony in a lump sum or, more commonly, periodically (monthly, biweekly, weekly).
According to the Connecticut General Statutes §46b-82(a), a court may award alimony to either party in the divorce but is under no obligation to do so. In Connecticut, the judge has discretion in deciding how much alimony to award. The court uses the following factors in determining whether to award alimony: (1) Length of the marriage, (2) Causes of divorce, (3) Age of the parties, (4) Health of the parties, (5) Location of the parties, (6) Occupation of the parties, (8) Earning capacity, skills, education and employability of the parties, (9) Estates of the parties, (10) Needs of the parties, (11) Division of property, (12) Child support award benefitting either spouse, and (13) Whether it is desirable for the children that a custodial parent secure employment.
In Connecticut, a judge can award temporary alimony, which is also called alimony “pendente lite.” Temporary alimony can be awarded during divorce proceedings and/or after the divorce is final. The judge will take the above factors into consideration when deciding how long temporary alimony should be awarded for and the amount of alimony.
A Connecticut court can also award permanent alimony. These days, permanent alimony is becoming rarer as alimony is increasingly viewed as compensation until the ex-spouse can get back on his or her feet and find employment. When considering awarding permanent alimony, the court will look to the causes of divorce.
The court can modify an alimony award, unless a couple agrees otherwise. For example, a court might change an alimony award if one of the former spouses shows a great change in circumstances. If either former spouse dies, or the alimony recipient remarries, payments end. In Connecticut, the court can end or reduce alimony payments if the recipient is living with another adult and the paying party shows that this living arrangement has altered the recipient’s need for alimony.
This post is meant to be a primer on spousal support in the state of Connecticut. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.