Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is one of the most complicated parts of any divorce case. Oklahoma law gives judges significant leeway to determine whether there should be alimony, how much the payments will be, and how long they will go on. With so much at stake, it is very important to understand the different kinds of alimony and to have a great Oklahoma alimony lawyer fighting for you.
How Alimony is Defined by Oklahoma Law
Alimony is often referred to as "spousal support." Alimony is a court-ordered payment that one spouse must pay to the other spouse. The purpose of alimony is to address income disparities between the spouses. Spousal support is meant to make it possible for both spouses to live nearly the same lifestyle as they lived while they were married. Alimony is not the same thing as child support, which is calculated separately.
Two Types of Alimony in Oklahoma
There are two kinds of alimony in Oklahoma: temporary and permanent. Temporary alimony – also called "temporary spousal maintenance" – is usually in effect only while the divorce is pending. With temporary alimony, the payments are over when the divorce becomes final.
Permanent alimony, which is referred to as "true alimony", is alimony which begins after the divorce is finalized. Permanent alimony means that the court directs one party to pay their spouse payments because of vast differences in the income or property held by each spouse. Most alimony payments are monthly, but some courts will agree to lump sum payments.
Calculating Alimony Payments
Oklahoma judges have discretion to award the amount of alimony in a given case. Unlike the situation in other states, Oklahoma does not use guidelines or calculators to assess the proper amount of alimony. The judge considers many different factors in assessing alimony, such as disparity in income, property and assets, and the relative earning power of each spouse. The length of the marriage, age of each spouse, each person's education and job skills, and their ability to support themselves are also considerations.
The lack of formal guidelines for calculating alimony makes it crucial for Oklahomans who are divorcing to have a lawyer who understands the law and how it could apply to their financial situation.
Alimony in At-Fault Cases
Oklahoma still retains at-fault divorce grounds, when means that a person may pursue a divorce based on the fault of the other spouse. Alimony payments are normally not impacted by fault conditions, like divorce, imprisonment, or abandonment. The fault grounds are taken into account by the judge when determining other terms of the divorce, like child custody. The reason alimony is determined separate from fault is because the overall goal remains to keep the parties on relatively equal financial grounds. If you have more earning power and more assets than your spouse, you could still owe alimony, even if the court finds that your spouse was at fault.
Alimony in Lieu of Property Division in Oklahoma
Alimony in lieu of property division is a different concept than permanent or temporary alimony. This term is about property division, and it allows the property to be divided based on the property's value. The court orders alimony in lieu of property to correct disparities in income or total worth between the parties. Like other alimony, it may be paid monthly or in lump sums.
Alimony in lieu of property in Oklahoma is meant to correct imbalances in the value of property each party receives in a divorce. For example, if the husband winds up with property and assets valuing $200,000 and the wife receives $100,000 in property and assets, then there is an imbalance of $100,000. In this situation, the court could order the husband to make payments in the amount of $100,000 to correct the imbalance.
Ending or Changing Alimony in Oklahoma
Can alimony orders be changed or terminated? Yes. If the financial situation of either party significantly changes, then the court may make changes to the alimony amount. A party seeking a modified alimony order must demonstrate that the current alimony arrangement no longer seems reasonable due to the changed financial situation of one or both parties. Common reasons for a change to an alimony order include pay raises or reductions, bankruptcy, or remarriage.
Call an Oklahoma Divorce Attorney to Discuss Alimony
If you are going through a divorce, or are already divorced but are receiving or paying alimony, call an experienced Oklahoma divorce attorney for more information about alimony. Contact or call our office at 405-542-2529 (542-CLAW) to speak with one of our highly skilled alimony lawyers. Read more about our team, or continue reading and researching our free legal information library, or enter live chat.