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What You Need to Know About Spousal Support in a Wisconsin Divorce

Posted on in Criminal Law

New Berlin Divorce LawyerDuring the divorce process, spouses will need to address a variety of issues related to the property they own, the income they earn, and other aspects of their family's finances. Spousal support, or alimony, can often be one of the most contentious issues that may be raised during divorce. In cases where spousal support may be a factor, it is important for spouses to understand when a person may be eligible to receive support payments, how the amount of payments will be determined, and other related issues. If you are considering a divorce or have already started the process in Wisconsin, understanding the ins and outs of spousal support can help you make the right decisions for yourself and your family. 

What Is Spousal Support? 

Spousal support is known as spousal maintenance in Wisconsin. This form of support is an amount of money paid by one former spouse to the other after a divorce. It is designed to help the receiving spouse maintain a lifestyle similar to what he or she enjoyed before getting divorced. This assistance is typically paid either as a lump-sum payment or through periodic payments over time. 

Spousal maintenance may come in two separate types: temporary and permanent. Temporary spousal support is designed to provide financial assistance during the divorce process, and it may be ordered by the court before the final divorce decree or judgment has been issued. Permanent spousal support, on the other hand, will be paid after the marriage has been officially dissolved, and it may last for a specific period of time or for an indefinite period. Maintenance will be terminated if either spouse passes away or if the recipient remarries. 

How Are Decisions About Spousal Support Made? 

In Wisconsin, there are several factors taken into consideration when determining whether one spouse should receive spousal support and how much should be paid. These include: 

  • The length of the marriage – The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that one spouse will be eligible to receive spousal support payments. 

  • Each party’s age and health – Age can play a role in whether someone will receive spousal support or not; older spouses are more likely than younger ones to receive some form of financial assistance from their former partner. A person's physical and emotional condition can also affect decisions regarding alimony; if one person has medical issues that limit their ability to work, then they may receive additional financial assistance from their former partner.  

  • Whether either spouse has any special needs – If one spouse has special health care needs due to an illness or disability and requires additional resources for treatment or medications, these circumstances may be factored into any spousal support calculations made by the court.

  • Each party’s earning potential – This includes each person’s educational background and job skills that can affect their ability to earn income in the future.  

  • The ability of each party to support themselves – If both spouses have similar incomes, there may be no need for alimony payments. However, if one party earns significantly more than the other, they may be required to pay spousal support. The court may also consider the amount of time a person will need to become self-supporting and maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while married, and spousal support may be paid while that party is pursuing an education or seeking employment.

  • Contributions made by a spouse to the other spouse's education or career - If one spouse helped the other increase their income-earning ability, such as by helping pay for a college education or managing the majority of household responsibilities while the other spouse focused on their career, they may be eligible to receive support based on these contributions.

  • Agreements between the spouses - If a couple had a prenuptial agreement stating that spousal support will or will not be paid in the event of a divorce, the terms of this agreement will typically be followed. Other agreements, such as financial or personal contributions a spouse made to the other spouse or to the marriage with the expectation that they would receive reciprocation in the future, may also be considered.

  • Property division - The court may consider how the division of marital assets will affect the spouses' respective financial situations, including whether it may be preferable for a spouse to receive a larger share of property instead of receiving ongoing spousal support payments.

Once all these factors have been taken into consideration, the court will then decide whether spousal support should be paid. If so, the judge will determine an appropriate amount of money that must be paid by one spouse to another, and they will also decide how long these payments will last.

Contact Our Waukesha Spousal Support Attorneys

If you believe that you should receive spousal support during or after your divorce, or if you are being asked to pay spousal maintenance to your former partner, it is important to understand the applicable laws so that you can make informed decisions about how your finances will be handled going forward. An experienced family law attorney can help ensure that all aspects of your case are handled properly and fairly under Wisconsin law. At Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our Brookfield spousal maintenance lawyers can provide you with the legal representation you need as you address these matters and other divorce-related issues, and we will help you reach agreements that will protect your financial interests going forward. Contact us at 262-232-6699 to set up a free consultation.



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