After a divorce, one of the many challenges that individuals face is learning how to support themselves and their children without the assistance of their former spouse. Particularly in families where one partner may have stayed at home in order to raise children or earned significantly less than the other, transitioning into this new situation can be a daunting prospect. Wisconsin law helps to protect individuals in these situations by providing for alimony payments from one former spouse to another. At Reddin & Singer, our family law lawyers have over two decades of experience in helping to negotiate amicable alimony agreements between Milwaukee couples. We also can advocate for your rights in court when a mutual agreement proves difficult.Calculating Alimony in Wisconsin
Alimony is defined as temporary or financial support provided by one ex-partner to another after a divorce. In Wisconsin, it is also referred to as “spousal maintenance.” Alimony may be ordered when one partner was previously dependent on the other and is in need of temporary support to get back on his or her feet financially. In other cases, a court may decide that one partner’s significant earnings are owed in part to both spouses and that alimony payments are appropriate. While some states allow payments to be awarded on a fault basis, meaning that one partner’s bad actions justify payments to another, Wisconsin is a no-fault state. Prior incidents of abandonment or infidelity are not considered in determining awards.
Wisconsin law does not set forth a precise formula for determining alimony payments after a divorce. Instead, a variety of factors are considered in considering whether spousal maintenance is appropriate and what the size of the award should be. These include:
- Length of the marriage
- Health of both parties
- How property was divided during the divorce
- Education levels of the parties
- Earning potential for both parties
- Contributions made by one spouse to the education, training, or income potential of the other, such as supporting a spouse while he or she pursued a graduate degree
Of these factors, one of the most significant is the length of the marriage. It is often difficult for a spouse who has been in the marriage for only a short period of time to receive alimony unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as significant health issues.
Many of these factors, such as earning potential, can be highly disputed and may require extensive presentation of evidence in order for the court to determine an appropriate award. For this reason, it is very important to seek out the counsel of a qualified divorce attorney who can present your best case for seeking or defending against an alimony award.Modifying or Terminating Support
An alimony award by the court may be temporary or permanent. Temporary awards are often meant to be rehabilitative in nature, meaning they are predicated on the receiving spouse obtaining certain qualifications or becoming self-supporting. For instance, a former spouse may receive payments while he or she returns to school in order to obtain a degree that will allow for a better career.
If an award by the court is a permanent award, this does not mean that it is set in stone. Either spouse may petition to have the award changed at any time, based on a substantial change in circumstances that makes the current award arrangement impossible or unfair, such as a change in job or job loss. Payments also typically will be terminated if a spouse dies or if the receiving spouse remarries.Discuss Your Divorce Case with a Milwaukee Lawyer
At Reddin & Singer, we are knowledgeable in helping individuals going through the process of divorce to determine their financial needs and what alimony payments might be appropriate for their circumstances. Our divorce attorneys will do their best to negotiate an agreement that is in your best interest and avoids a protracted legal dispute, but we are also prepared to advocate strongly on your behalf in Milwaukee courts if necessary. Attorney Terese Singer has helped countless clients navigate the process of ending a marriage. If you have a question about your situation or would like more information, contact us at (414) 271-6400 or online.