Going through a divorce is a life changing experience that has long lasting emotional and financial consequences. Unlike many states, however, the courts in Alaska do not favor long-term, post-divorce spousal support. Although judges rarely award permanent support, temporary support may be awarded if there is a significant difference in the earning capacity of each spouse. Because the courts have great discretion in making these determinations, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney by your side.
Peggy A. Roston has extensive experience helping families find creative solutions to their most difficult challenges. She will offer you legal knowledge and skill to help you manage the financial effects of a divorce.
Spousal Support in Alaska
In Alaska, interim or post-divorce spousal support may be awarded if the court finds that one spouse, either the wife or the husband, needs financial support and the other spouse is capable of paying spousal support. So, in a marriage in which both spouses earn a living, the court may decide to award limited support or not to award spousal support at all.
Nonetheless, the economic impact of divorce is inevitable, particularly when one spouse earns more than the other, or in a marriage in which one spouse is a stay at home parent. Unlike child support, the court does not rely on a specific formula in deciding whether to award post-divorce spousal support. The case law directs the court to provide for a spouse’s financial needs through an unequal division of property if possible. If this is not possible, the court may award post-divorce spousal support.
In awarding post-divorce spousal support, the court will consider a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage and the standard of living the spouses enjoyed during that time. In a short-term marriage (less than five years), for example, the couple’s lifestyle investment is lower, which means the court will probably award support for a brief period, if at all. On the other hand, a longer marriage may require a longer period of support, depending on the differing child-rearing responsibilities and career opportunities of each spouse.
In addition, other factors the court will consider, include:
- The age and health of the each spouse
- How the marital property was divided
- Each spouse’s financial condition, including the cost of health insurance
- The earning capacity of each party, including education, skills, and experience
- A spouse’s need for further education in order to earn a living
- Other factors the court deems relevant
Types of Spousal Support in Alaska
There are several types of spousal support. Interim spousal support is awarded to level the playing field between the parties when there is a disparity of earnings between the parties. After the divorce is final, the court may award three types of support, reorientation support, rehabilitative support or permanent spousal support for a set period of time. The goal of reorientation support is to assist a spouse who needs to adjust to living on less money. This type of support is short-term and will only be awarded if the property settlement does not adequately meet the spouse’s reasonable needs.
Rehabilitation support may be awarded to assist a spouse who needs education or job training in order to earn a living. To be eligible for this type of support, however, the receiving spouse must have a specific employment goal and be able to demonstrate that the support will assist in meeting that objective. The party seeking this type of support must show expected earnings from additional education or training.
Spousal Support Modifications
Spousal support is subject to modification if a spouse can demonstrate there has been a material change in circumstances relative to the award. The change must be substantial and ongoing. In other words, it cannot be temporary in length, even if the change (such as a decrease in income) is substantial. Finally, if the recipient spouse remarries, the other spouse can file a motion to terminate the support.
Tax Consequences of Spousal Support
The courts disfavor spousal support. However, for settlement purposes, spousal support can be an effective tool for redistributing income between the parties in a tax-advantaged manner because spousal support is deductible to the payor spouse and taxable to the recipient spouse.
Experienced Family Law Attorney
For over 26 years, Peggy Roston has worked with clients in all stages of life to help them navigate the complexities of divorce. Given that the courts do not favor post-divorce spousal support, it takes an attorney with knowledge and experience with spousal support cases to protect your interests whether you are seeking a support award or defending against a support award. She is aware of the interplay between property settlements and spousal support, and will advocate to help you obtain the maximum amount of support. Peggy can also help you if you are faced with defending against claims for interim or post-divorce spousal support. Call the office today or fill out a contact form to set up a consultation.
Located in Anchorage, Law Offices of Peggy A. Roston serves clients in Fairbanks, on the Kenai, in the Mat-Su Valley and throughout the state of Alaska.