How does alimony work in Connecticut divorce cases?
What factors are taken into account when considering alimony? How likely is one to receive alimony? One of the great uncertainties that divorce clients deal with at the outset of divorce is the likely outcome of either side’s application for an order of alimony, or spousal support. In many marriages, one party largely supports the other, or there is an inequity in earnings throughout the marriage which, in the context of the marriage arrangement, results in the parties sharing their financial responsibilities in such a way that makes sense for the family unit during the marriage itself. Upon divorce, however, there is often one party who has been supported by the other during the marriage, who is now facing the prospect of either seeking additional gainful employment or receiving spousal support – whether rehabilitative or lifetime – to enable that spouse to meet his or her continuing financial obligations.
To answer the most frequently posed question first: there is no “formula” for alimony in Connecticut. Many judges, family law practitioners, and even family relations counselors employ different guidelines in certain cases, but the length, amount, and terms of alimony are designed to be case-specific, and may be as flexible (and as unexpected) as the broad variety of factual scenarios that come before the Superior courts week in and week out.
An alimony award is based primarily upon a spouse’s “continuing duty to support” the other, even after the breakdown of the marriage, and is governed by Connecticut General Statutes § 46b-82.
It is important to know that in Connecticut, courts may only enter alimony awards during dissolution proceedings. If a party is not awarded alimony during the initial proceedings he or she will be precluded from returning to any court to seek alimony at any time in the future. Because in some cases an immediate alimony order is not appropriate, courts may enter a nominal award, often set as one dollar per year. This effectively suspends the payor’s obligation, while preserving the recipient’s right to receive alimony at some point in the future. Orders may leave the duration of the nominal award indefinite, or may specify that an automatic modification will occur after a designated period of time.
If you have any questions, contact Joseph Maya, Managing Partner at Maya Murphy, at (203) 221-3100 or directly via email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com for a complimentary consultation with an experienced Divorce Lawyer to discuss your case.