What Is Alimony And How Does It Work In Oklahoma Divorce Cases
Alongside property division and child custody and support, alimony is one of the main focus areas for a couple during the divorce process. Alimony, or spousal support, is a set of payments intended to provide financial support to a spouse in need either during or after a divorce. This support can be provided as money from the other spouse or property.
Alimony can be awarded on a temporary basis during the divorce process to ensure a spouse’s financial needs are met during their divorce or on a more long-term basis after the divorce is complete. There is no set amount or formula to allocate alimony in Oklahoma. Instead, either spouse can request financial support in the form of alimony from the other spouse during the divorce. Spouses can either agree upon support payments, or a Judge can make the decision during a trial.
Often alimony can be a source of tension between a divorcing couple, and it can be challenging to reach an agreement on a fair amount of support to be paid. Spouses often argue that there is no actual need for financial support or that they do not have the means to pay the proposed alimony. Similarly, a requesting spouse could be exaggerating their financial needs and inability to support themselves to increase potential payments.
Once finalized in a divorce, alimony is court-ordered and must be adhered to. As such, it is essential that you receive an arrangement that best reflects your circumstances and needs during your divorce. Representation in your divorce from an experienced family law attorney will protect you from aggressive negotiation tactics and divorce terms that are inappropriate for your circumstances.
Cannon & Associates Oklahoma family law attorneys have been successfully navigating the complexities of alimony battles in Oklahoma for many years. We pride ourselves on developing a tailored approach to every client and their unique case to ensure our representation is as effective as possible for securing a successful outcome. Our years of experience mean that our attorneys have seen almost all strategies that a spouse will use to argue alimony. This experience helps us to protect your interests and fight for the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Alimony proceedings during a divorce can be challenging and may have substantial implications for our future. You do not have to manage this process alone. Contact an experienced Cannon & Associates OKC divorce lawyer for a free consultation today by calling 405-591-3935.
Alimony or spousal support is designed to provide some element of financial support to a spouse in need, either while the divorce process is ongoing or after the divorce is complete.
In Oklahoma, alimony is determined based on two key factors:
- The need of the requesting spouse for support arising from the marriage. In Oklahoma, the need for financial support must be rationally connected to the marriage.
- The ability of the other spouse to pay alimony.
When Is Alimony Determined In Divorce Proceedings?
During the divorce process, a couple must come to an agreement on aspects such as property division, child custody and child support, and alimony. If a couple can’t agree on terms, the final decision is made by a Judge at a divorce trial.
Once decided, the terms are formalized in the final divorce decree, which is a legally binding document that outlines the requirements of each spouse after the divorce. If alimony is awarded, the order will include how much alimony one spouse must pay the other and the duration of the support.
Ideally, a divorcing couple will come to an agreement on alimony payments through out-of-court negotiations during the divorce process. However, if spouses can’t agree, a Judge will make the final decision and award alimony through a trial. Often, spouses can’t agree if one spouse claims they have a financial need that the other doesn’t agree with or if the paying spouse is arguing about their ability to pay for support.
Calculating Alimony Payments In Oklahoma
There is no set formula or financial threshold when determining alimony in Oklahoma. Typically the higher-earning spouse will pay spousal support to the lower-earning, receiving spouse. Payments will be based on the receiving spouse’s need for support and the paying spouse’s ability to pay, factors such as gender will not be considered in the decision to award alimony.
An alimony award can be a set amount of money or could be paid in the form of property. A Judge may include the required methods of payment in the final order.
Many factors can influence a decision to award alimony, such as how long a couple were married, the physical and mental health of both parties, and each spouse’s financial assets. Some of the main factors a Judge may consider when determining alimony include the following:
- How long the marriage lasted
- The age of both spouses
- The earning capacity of both spouses
- The standard of living enjoyed by each spouse during the marriage
- Both spouse’s financial means
- The physical and mental condition of both parties
- How long it could take the requesting spouse to financially support themselves
- Evidence of a spouse’s income earning ability
Can My Divorce Proceedings Impact Alimony Payments?
During the divorce process, either spouse can allege fault and cite their ex’s behavior or misconduct as justification for the breakdown of the marriage. Alleged misconduct could include adultery, domestic violence and cruelty, or a felony conviction. In some cases, a spouse’s proven misconduct could influence alimony payments, but this is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and is not guaranteed.
Under Oklahoma law, a Judge cannot award alimony payments as a punishment for either spouse’s misconduct during the marriage. However, if a spouse’s misconduct affected the requesting spouse’s financial situation or ability to support themselves, this could be taken into consideration when determining support payments. For example, adultery may be considered in the alimony award if the paying spouse spent a substantial amount of marital assets on their extramarital affair.
How Long Will Alimony Payments Last?
How long alimony payments last will depend upon the type of arrangement and how the support is paid. Alimony payments could be in regular installments over a set period of time, in one lump sum, or in the form of property.
Often alimony is awarded in temporary orders, sometimes known as spousal maintenance, during the divorce process to provide temporary support to a spouse until their divorce is complete. Spousal maintenance payments established as part of temporary orders are finite.
Once the divorce is complete, these alimony payments will end. A new payment arrangement may come into place if this was decided as part of the final divorce terms. If post-divorce alimony was not awarded in the final terms, payments will end entirely once the divorce is complete.
Some states set out a specific time frame in which an individual will pay alimony to their former spouse. This could be a temporary or permanent arrangement. However, Oklahoma law does not allow for permanent alimony awards that will last indefinitely. Instead, a Judge may award a total set amount of money, often known as a money judgment, that the paying spouse may pay in monthly installments or as one lump sum.
Usually, post-divorce alimony payments will end once the recipient spouse remarries. Additionally, alimony will likely end when either spouse dies. However, there may be a requirement for life insurance policies to cover the outstanding amount owed after death.
To end alimony payments, typically, the paying spouse will need to file for a termination order. If a spouse stops making their alimony payments because the recipient spouse has remarried but didn’t file a termination order, this could result in penalties.
A termination order will be reviewed and could be approved or denied. A termination motion could be denied if the receiving spouse demonstrates their need for continued support. The paying spouse may have to prove that continued payments would be unfair given the other spouse’s new circumstances in order to successfully terminate alimony.
Changing An Alimony Agreement In Oklahoma
Paying alimony can be challenging for anyone’s financial situation. Similarly, not receiving enough alimony can also be difficult for a former spouse to manage. However, it is not always easy to modify an alimony agreement once it has been finalized by the court. Either party must provide evidence of a substantial change in circumstances to warrant an amendment to alimony payments.
For example, a paying spouse may request a reduction or termination of alimony payments if they have lost their job, had a new child, or if the recipient spouse has recently moved in with a new partner. The receiving spouse can object to a modification and must prove that they still require continued support and that maintaining payments would not be unfair to the other party.
Conversely, a recipient spouse may file for a modification if a change in their circumstances has resulted in an increased need for financial support. A Judge will rarely modify an agreement on a temporary change in circumstances. Usually, the change must be both ongoing and substantial and render the current arrangement unreasonable for either party.
Cannon & Associates: Fierce Divorce Attorneys
The impacts of an alimony arrangement can be far-reaching, and if an arrangement is not suitable, it can severely impact your financial situation.
Whether you are requesting alimony in your divorce or your ex is requesting payments from you, you will need to provide a well-evidenced argument in court to support your case. Factors such as both spouses’ financial assets, earning capacity, and physical and mental condition can influence the outcome of alimony proceedings.
Cannon & Associates family law attorneys are well-respected, with upwards of 25 years of experience navigating complex divorces for our clients in Oklahoma. We have a broad knowledge of alimony cases in Oklahoma and know how clients can be vulnerable to unfair settlements if they are not adequately represented.
Our team will advocate fiercely for the rights of you and your family when determining alimony. We have the experience, knowledge, and passion to ensure you are not unfairly treated while determining alimony. Your Cannon & Associates attorney will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce when it comes to alimony, property division, and any other divorce matters you need our support with. To ensure you receive the best possible outcome in your alimony proceedings, talk to a Cannon & Associates family law attorney in Oklahoma City today. Contact our team to schedule a free consultation by calling 405-591-3935.
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