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Alimony in Wisconsin: What You Need To Know

A divorce isn’t always equal at the start. You might not have the same earning capacity, which means you may be seeking alimony. Reach out to one of our lawyers who can help you fight back for the support you need. We understand the monetary difficulties that can come with a divorce, so we’ll help you do what’s possible to avoid those hardships.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is oftentimes referred to as maintenance in Wisconsin and alimony is support that is paid for the purpose of helping a spouse after a divorce or even sometimes during the pendency of a divorce case. This is different from child support, which is paid to a spouse, but that’s for the benefit of the children. Here, alimony or maintenance is paid for the benefit of a spouse.

There are Three Types of Alimony

There are three main types of alimony that we see being ordered in Wisconsin.

  1. 1. Rehabilitative: This is for the purpose of getting someone back on their feet. Perhaps they’re just finishing school or they’re just about to get back into the workforce and they need some training and a divorce hits. This will help people get the education they need or the job credits that they need to get back on their feet. This is usually a shorter term type of maintenance.
  2. 2. Compensatory: The best example of this is where a spouse maybe put aside his or her career and harmed his or her earning capacity to put the other spouse through college or medical school, for example. Now the parties are getting a divorce and one party got an education and is able to earn a larger wage while the other party sacrificed his or her earnings and now is seeking to be compensated for that.
  3. 3. Lifestyle Maintenance: This is by far the most common type of maintenance that we see. This type of maintenance is paid so that the spouses can enjoy a lifestyle similar to that enjoyed during the marriage. Typically, this is going to be ordered on a longer term marriage of more than 10 to 15 years, but can sometimes be ordered on shorter marriages as well.

How is Alimony Determined?

The judge is going to focus on both the amount and the term of maintenance.

  • The monthly amount of maintenance will be determined by taking a look at both parties incomes, including the needs and the budgets of the parties.
  • The term of maintenance is how long maintenance will be paid. Maintenance can be paid as short as a few months after a divorce, all the way to indefinite. It could be paid forever in theory until the parties remarry or die.

It will be important to discuss with your attorney the term of maintenance and the amount, as both are incredibly important to determine.

What Factors Does the Judge Consider When Making an Alimony Decision?

The judge is going to consider certain factors when deciding whether maintenance is appropriate. The most common or most important factors that we typically see are:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Earning capacity of the parties
  • Actual earnings of the parties

Additionally there are some other factors that are considered such as:

  • Asset division
  • If children are involved
  • Earning capacity

Earning capacity is used to measure and calculate maintenance. The longer the marriage, the larger the discrepancy in incomes, the more likely you are to have a maintenance award and the longer it’s likely to go.

Alimony Can Be Terminated

While your alimony shouldn’t end until you remarry or until either spouse passes away, your alimony payments can change. Alimony is a financial agreement made through your divorce, but other factors can modify your alimony agreement.

For example, if your former spouse loses their job years after the initial agreement, they won’t have any income and may be penalized if they don’t pay for your alimony. In these cases, they may return to the court and request a change to their alimony payments.

If they do so, the judge will need proof that their situation has changed significantly enough that they can’t make those payments. After that, the judge will prepare a better payment plan for them, and your spousal maintenance will change.

What’s Next?

A divorce is difficult both emotionally and financially, and it’s difficult to recover when you can’t support yourself immediately. Fortunately, your attorney at Karp & Iancu can help you recover. We understand how difficult a divorce may be on you, and we understand that fighting for alimony against your spouse can be difficult.

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