This article is the second in a multi-part series on women’s rights in divorce cases. While divorce laws are supposed to apply equally to both spouses, there are issues unique to women in divorce worth considering. It’s essential to have a competent attorney who represents women in divorces and understands their unique experiences in these situations. If you’re wondering, what are the rights of a wife in a divorce?, here are critical factors to weigh.
Spousal support is often one of the hardest if not the hardest issues in a divorce case. This is because the determination of spousal support is often very subjective and there is no set formula that determines how much a wife will get.
It’s critical to have an attorney who’s handled many cases involving spousal support. Your attorney’s effort and experience oftentimes can be the difference maker in getting the best result possible.
The basic information a judge uses to determine spousal support is the financial needs of the wife and the ability of the husband to pay. In other words, the court considers how much support a wife will need to live each month, as well as the husband’s income, his assets, and his own monthly financial needs in coming up with a monthly payment.
The judge also considers many other factors in determining spousal support. Some examples are:
- Who is at fault for the marriage ending?
- The length of the marriage.
- The division of the marital property.
- The standard of living during the marriage.
- The contributions (monetary and non-monetary) each party made to the well-being of the family.
- Whether the wife can enhance her earning ability through more education.
Spousal support is determined in two stages during a divorce. The first stage is temporary spousal support and the second stage is post-divorce support. Temporary spousal support lasts until the divorce is final. Spousal support after the divorce is much more complicated. In post-divorce support, the judge will not only determine how much the husband pays per month, but also for how long. This is called the “term” of spousal support. A term can be months, years, or for an “undefined duration” which means it has no specific end date. Term is often just as important as the monthly payment so it’s important to have an attorney who knows what evidence is necessary to present to get the best term possible.
Unless the parties agree otherwise, spousal support will end if either party dies, the wife receiving spousal support remarries, or the wife receiving spousal support lives with a significant other for more than one year in a “marriage-like relationship.”
Sometimes a judge will award no spousal support but will grant the wife a “reservation” of spousal support. This means that while the husband won’t have to pay support immediately, the wife has the right in the future to come back to court and ask the judge to order spousal support to be paid. A reservation usually lasts for a term of one-half the length of the parties’ marriage. In limited circumstances, courts will use specific formulas or “guidelines” to determine temporary spousal support. These formulas are fairly complicated and require an experienced attorney to advise on the likely outcomes. These guidelines are not mandatory though and spouses can still challenge them in court in temporary support hearings.
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We hope this content helps answer the question, what are the rights of a wife in a divorce. If you are facing a divorce and you think you should receive spousal support in your divorce, contact WhitbeckBennett to see how we can help. Our attorneys have represented countless women in divorce cases, and we are here for you in yours.