Though it does not come up in every divorce, alimony is a factor for many couples who are ending their marriage. Also known as spousal support and maintenance, alimony is especially likely to come up when one spouse was the sole breadwinner and the other spouse has been out of the workforce for years. Once the couple is broken up, the spouse who stayed home and raised the children may not have a way of earning a regular income, at least not right away.

Who qualifies for alimony?

While you and your spouse can negotiate a level of spousal support and how long the payments will last, you should be aware of the ten factors contained in Wisconsin’s alimony statute. These are:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health, both physical and emotional
  • The terms of the property division
  • Each spouse’s educational level when they got married, and when the divorce began
  • The earning capacity of the spouse asking for maintenance (their education, skills, work experience, how long they have been out of the job force, and their ability to acquire the training necessary to get appropriate employment)
  • The feasibility of the seeking spouse becoming self-supporting at a standard of living comparable to during the marriage, and how long it would take for that to happen
  • Tax consequences for each spouse, if any
  • Whether there was a mutual agreement between the spouses prior to or during the marriage (i.e., a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement)
  • The contributions of one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other
  • Other factors that the judge may determine to be relevant

With so much going into a family court judge’s decision when a couple cannot agree on alimony, negotiating spousal support outside of court can be complicated. Spouses don’t always agree that the spouse requesting alimony is entitled to it. The best way to avoid a long fight over spousal support is to work with a skilled divorce attorney.