Divorce can be a challenging process, full of emotional and financial uncertainty. While in some relationships, both spouses may work at equally lucrative jobs, allowing them to move forward without much financial upheaval, this is not always the case. One spouse may have sacrificed his or her career to take care of children, or to follow the career of the other. Or a spouse may simply have a job that pays substantially less than the other spouse’s job. In these situations, a court may award maintenance payments from one spouse to the other in order to ensure that the divorce does not leave the lesser-earning spouse in dire circumstances. Courts have significant discretion in making maintenance payments, and they can consider evidence and arguments on a wide variety of factors. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee divorce attorney Terese J. Singer has the skills to help spouses protect their interests and pursue arrangements that are financially adequate.Determining Appropriate Maintenance Payments
Maintenance (formerly known as alimony) consists of payments that one ex-spouse makes to the other ex-spouse to help support that individual. Maintenance usually arises when the marriage was fairly long and there is a disparity between the income of the two spouses such that one ex-spouse may not be able to live the life to which he or she was previously accustomed.
An award of maintenance is never required. It is a discretionary consideration for a family court judge. However, Wisconsin statute 767.56 provides that courts may award maintenance for a limited or indefinite period, based on certain factors to be considered. Anticipating the amount and duration of maintenance that a judge will award in a certain case is very difficult. Having a skilled family law attorney advocate on your behalf for or against maintenance can go a long way toward helping you through a divorce.
When considering whether to award maintenance, courts consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacities of the parties, the educational levels of the parties, the ages of the parties, and their physical and emotional health. This is not an exhaustive list, and other factors can be considered as well. For example, if one spouse has contributed to the education of the other, such as working so that the other spouse can attend medical school, this can be considered.
Generally, Wisconsin courts first consider the earnings of the parties and the length of the marriage. While this is not an absolute rule, courts are more likely to award maintenance when the marriage has lasted for a relatively long period of time, and one spouse has come to depend on the other. Courts are also more likely to award maintenance to help equalize discrepancies between income, especially when one spouse has become used to a high level of income that would be lost after a divorce. After considering these two factors, the court may make an initial judgment on maintenance and then adjust that judgment based on the other factors set forth by the legislature. Finally, the court may limit the payments to a definite period of time, such as a decade after divorce, or determine that the payments should continue indefinitely as long as the spouses remain alive. However, maintenance terminates upon the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.Discuss Your Divorce Proceeding with a Milwaukee Attorney
An award of maintenance may have a significant impact on your financial wellbeing, whether you are the payer or the recipient. If you are the payer, it can saddle you with a lifetime of financial obligations to your former spouse, while if you are the recipient, it can be the lifeline you need while trying to get back on your feet. Regardless of your position during a divorce, it is important that you seek out the advice of a knowledgeable Milwaukee divorce lawyer. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, family law attorney Terese J. Singer has accumulated substantial experience in these proceedings and can craft a strategy to pursue your individual objectives. Contact our office online or at (414) 271-6400 to set up a free consultation. Reddin & Singer represents residents of Milwaukee, Mequon, Racine, Port Washington, West Bend, Waukesha, and other cities in Milwaukee, Racine, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha Counties.