What is Waukesha Alimony?
Alimony, which is known as maintenance in Wisconsin, is money paid to one spouse by the other spouse after a divorce, separation, or annulment. Maintenance can be rehabilitative, compensatory, or indefinite. There are two primary aims of alimony, according to Wisconsin case law:
- “To support the recipient spouse in accordance with the needs and earning capacities of the parties”; and
- “To ensure a fair and equitable financial agreement between the parties.”
Factors for Awarding Alimony and Determining Amount in Waukesha
When one spouse in a Wisconsin divorce requests alimony, the court looks at many different factors identified under Wisconsin law. To be clear, the court does not necessarily consider all statutory factors, and it may also consider factors that are not listed but that may be applicable to the case. No single factor will decide whether the court awards alimony. Instead, the court will consider the overall circumstances in the case and will decide whether maintenance is appropriate—as well as the amount and duration—based on facts that are specific to the spouses getting divorced.
What factors does a Wisconsin court use when deciding whether to award alimony or maintenance in Waukesha? The following are the factors that are cited in the statute:
- The length of the marriage;
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
- The division of property made;
- The educational level of each party at the time of marriage and at the time the action is commenced;
- The earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to find appropriate employment;
- The feasibility that the party seeking maintenance can become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage, and, if so, the length of time necessary to achieve this goal;
- The tax consequences to each party;
- Any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage, according to the terms of which one party has made financial or service contributions to the other with the expectation of reciprocation or other compensation in the future, if the repayment has not been made, or any mutual agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning any arrangement for the financial support of the parties;
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other; and
- Such other factors as the court may in each individual case determine to be relevant.
Maintenance can be awarded for a limited time or for an indefinite length of time. Generally speaking, maintenance is only awarded indefinitely when the parties had a long-term marriage. No matter what the length of the marriage was, and regardless of whether limited or indefinite maintenance is awarded, Wisconsin law makes clear that maintenance terminates at the death of the paying spouse or recipient spouse.
How Alimony Affects Taxes in Waukesha
For any alimony or maintenance awarded on or after January 1, 2019, the spouse who pays alimony is responsible for the taxes on that money. The recipient spouse does not have to pay tax on the amount of maintenance received.
Modifying Waukesha Alimony
If a substantial change in circumstances occurs, it may be possible to modify alimony or maintenance payments. For example, the following could represent a substantial change in circumstances and could be reason to modify an existing maintenance award:
- Paying spouses loses their job (but only if the spouse did not leave a job or intend to get fired to avoid paying alimony);
- Paying spouse becomes disabled; or
- Recipient spouse gets a high-paying job.