Spousal Support FAQ

1.  Does rehabilitative alimony just stop on its own?

It may, upon the termination of the period fixed by the court, or if one of the parties dies, or if the receiving spouse remarries, or when a relationship is established that produces a child and results in a court order directing another person to pay support to the receiving spouse or directing the receiving spouse to support another person who is not a descendant of the paying spouse.  However, in Arkansas, one who signs a contract to pay alimony for a certain time is bound by that contract, which the court usually is powerless to change.

2.  Is a generous property settlement enough, or do I also have to pay alimony?
Recent cases have held that just because a dependant spouse can live comfortably off an equitable distribution award (a property settlement), that is no reason for the Court to deny spousal support.  The size of the property settlement does not determine the right to spousal support.  The dependent ex-spouse may have the right to share in the future income stream of the dominant, wage-earning ex-spouse.

If your ex-spouse would be entitled to a share in your income for spousal support, it doesn’t matter how generous his or her property settlement is.

For example: a professional baseball player has a property settlement with his ex-spouse that exceeds five (5) million dollars in value.  This property settlement is very large and was awarded to her because the court felt as though she deserved half of the martial estate.  She was married to him since he began playing professional baseball and had invested time and energy into the effort that helped her husband get to te major leagues.  For this reason, she may also be allowed to reap from the monetary rewards he receives during future seasons.  Therefore, alimony may be awarded.

3.  Can an agreed upon spousal support award within a premarital agreement be ignored or set aside at a later date?
A premarital agreement is a contract that can be used to avoid or limit maintenance.  The agreement must meet all the conditions of any other contract to be valid, including but not limited to the following: it must be executed and signed in good faith; there can be no duress or compulsion to sign; there can be no fraud in the inducement to sign.  If your ex-spouse gets the agreement set aside because it is an invalid contract, you may have to pay spousal support.

4.  Does a judge have to send a delinquent spousal support payor to jail?
No, contempt sanctions are “discretionary,” meaning that the judge can determine the particular remedy on a case-by-case basis.  Some judges are quite harsh and will send a delinquent payor of spousal support to jail, while others are reluctant to do so.  Some judges prefer other measures due to the fact that paying support from jail may be difficult.  Some judges may order a considerable amount of community service, especially when the delinquent support payments are a result of a lack of funds to pay the support.

Please feel free to contact our office at (501) 296-9999 to schedule a free consultation if you have any questions about spousal support, or any other legal issue you may wish to discuss.

Links and Resources:

     Practice Areas: