Overview of Spousal Support in Kentucky
For many years in our country’s history, one spouse supported the other financially in the marriage. If they decided to divorce, the supporting spouse was required to pay alimony, which is also known as both spousal support and maintenance, to the spouse who had not been in the workforce. Nowadays, it’s more common for both spouses to work outside the home. However, alimony is still available for spouses in Kentucky.
There are three types of alimony in Kentucky: temporary, rehabilitative (or short-term), and permanent alimony.
Temporary alimony is only available during the divorce process. One spouse may have relied on the other for financial support, specifically to pay for everyday living expenses during the duration of the marriage. That spouse may need financial support while the divorce is being finalized. Temporary alimony may be awarded in this situation.
In Kentucky and many states, rehabilitative short-term alimony is an option. There’s a single purpose behind short-term alimony: to provide financial support while the spouse who was the lower-earner during the marriage gets either a degree or specialized job training that will allow him or her to support himself or herself.
This type of alimony is only available during the time that the lower-earner spouse is looking for a job or a better job. In most cases, the judge requires that the spouse creates a plan that outlines just how long it will take him or her to become financially independent, which helps define the time period that the higher-earner spouse will be paying alimony.
There are only a few circumstances where a judge will award permanent alimony. Typically, it’s only available when a marriage of 10 years or more is ending. Or, if one of the spouses is elderly or has a disability and won’t be able to join the workforce, then permanent alimony might be awarded in those situations.
Who Is Entitled to Spousal Support?
There are certain factors that affect whether a spouse is entitled to financial support, and they mostly relate to the spouse’s ability to support him or herself financially. Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to who receives alimony.
There are two key factors:
- The spouse doesn’t have the resources to be self-supporting, even once the property has been divided in the divorce.
- The spouse cannot be self-sufficient or is responsible for caring for a child whose needs make it extremely difficult for the spouse to work outside the home.
If these two requirements are met, then the spouse will be entitled to alimony.
Determination of Type, Amount, and Duration
The type of alimony that will be awarded, the amount, and the duration depend on several different factors. To determine whether a spouse needs alimony, the court looks at factors surrounding their finances and life circumstances.
For life circumstances, the court considers:
- The lower-earning spouse’s age, physical health, and mental health
- The standard of living during the marriage and the length of the marriage
- The time it would take for the spouse to find adequate employment after either a degree or job training has been completed
For finances, the court considers:
- The lower-earning spouse’s financial resources
- The lower-earning spouse’s ability to become financially independent
- The higher-earning spouse’s ability to remain financially independent while they pay spousal support
In most cases, the court will determine the end of the spousal support depending on when the lower-earning spouse is able to become financially independent. Spousal support also ends when the receiving spouse remarries or when either spouse passes away.
Changes to Current Alimony Agreements
When life circumstances change, there may be a need to change the alimony agreement. It’s possible to petition the court to modify the original alimony agreement. If the paying spouse loses his or her job, for example, it’s important to file to modify the arrangement before he or she stops paying the alimony.