Though the Connecticut divorce process is relatively simple, especially when compared to other states, there are still certain conventions and legal guidelines that must be understood. Specifically, the process for determining the amount of alimony that a spouse should be awarded can play a very big role in the overall divorce proceedings. Because of complaints regarding the fairness of Connecticut alimony procedures, the Connecticut Law Revision Commission was entrusted with the duty of reviewing and presenting new recommendations/guidelines regarding the adequacy and fairness of Connecticut’s alimony award laws. Additionally, the Connecticut courts are always required to uphold the Connecticut alimony laws so that they are executed in a gender neutral manner.
Legal Requirements for Alimony Proceedings
Alimony, also known as maintenance, is a financial award given as spousal support to one spouse from another, once a divorce has been completed. Based on the spouse’s continued duty to support their spouse, alimony is considered separate from any awarded child support or property distribution award, though all three can be awarded when necessary in divorce proceedings. The amount and duration for which alimony is to be paid is a determination made by the divorce court. When making this determination, Connecticut divorce law allows the court to consider:
- Both parties’ education, earning capacity, and other existing factors;
- The feasibility of a custodial parent being able to secure employment when determining the amount of alimony to be awarded;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Both parties’ vocational skills, station, age, health, occupation, sources/amounts of income, employability, and the needs of each party;
- The length of the marriage;
- The underlying reasons for the divorce; and
- The value and nature of any property awarded by the court to either spouse.
In February 2014, changes were made to Connecticut alimony laws. Some of the most important changes include:
- Requiring the courts to provide a specific basis for all lifetime or indefinite alimony awards;
- When modifying an alimony award because of the changed circumstances of a spouse, the judge must consider the extent to which the current order must be modified via the use of established criteria for determining alimony awards;
- All evidence presented by both spouses must be considered before determining whether alimony will be awarded.
The Modification of the Alimony Award
Under Connecticut law, a court can set aside, continue, or modify all final orders for either permanent or periodic alimony. In order to do so, the party requesting the modification or other change must present a substantial showing that circumstances have changed for either party, which warrant the modification of the alimony award. Before making the determination that a modification is required for the alimony award, a hearing must be held that presents evidence showing that substantial changes have occurred for either party. Evidence of substantial changes include new employment, others means of increased wealth, and the additional considerations made by the court when determining the granting of the initial alimony award.
If you are going through a divorce and want to learn more about the alimony awards you could be granted or required to pay, it is in your best interests to get in contact with an attorney immediately. The Fairfield County family law attorneys at our law firm are here to answer any and all of your family law-related questions.