During or after a divorce, Maine courts may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other. In Maine, alimony is called “spousal support,” and it can be awarded to a spouse in financial need. The court's goal in ordering spousal support is to ensure that both spouses can maintain a reasonable standard of living, and that both will become self-supporting within a reasonable amount of time.
Types of Spousal Support
There are several types of spousal support in Maine. A judge may order general spousal support payments to one spouse if the marriage lasted more than ten years. General spousal support usually may not be awarded for longer than half the length of the marriage. For example, if you were married for 16 years, you may be entitled to receive spousal support for no more than eight years.
A judge may also order traditional support if one spouse will be reentering the work force or relocating after the divorce. The purpose of this type of award is to assist the spouse who is making significant lifestyle changes in this transition.
The court may award reimbursement support to one spouse if the marital settlement is unequal or if one spouse made substantial contributions to the other's education during the marriage. A reimbursement award doesn’t look forward to the spouse’s future needs; instead, it pays the spouse back for benefits received by the other spouse.
Finally, the court may order nominal support to preserve its right to grant spousal support in the future, or interim support while the divorce is pending. If you think you will want spousal support at any time, your divorce judgment must include a provision for spousal support.
Determining the Amount of Support
To calculate spousal support, the court will consider a number of factors, including the length of the marriage; each spouse's age, education, income, employment history, and ability to pay support; and each party's retirement and health insurance benefits. The court will also look at tax consequences of dividing marital property or selling the family home, whether either spouse was a homemaker or contributed to the earning potential of the other spouse, and whether either spouse committed economic misconduct.
Modifying Spousal Support
The court can modify spousal support at any time if either party shows a substantial change in circumstances, such as a change in income or a move. Spousal support automatically ends of either spouse dies or if the spouse receiving support remarries.
Spousal support is taxable to the recipient spouse and tax deductible to the paying spouse.