Alimony is support that one spouse may be entitled to from another spouse in the Court's discretion.
Under Rhode Island Law alimony is typically awarded as a specific amount of
money for a specific period of time and is generally awarded only when it was
needed for rehabilitative purposes for the spouse who is to receive the alimony. Consider
these examples of instances in which a Rhode Island judge might or might
not award alimony.
John and Sue are married and have 3 minor children.
John and Sue agree that the children will live with Sue (i.e. Sue is to have
placement of the children).
Sue has been out of the workforce for the last ten (10) years caring for their home, children and finances
and has an associates degree in marketing that she obtained before any of the
children were born. John is a successful car salesman
and makes about $90,000 per year. John and Sue own a 2,200 square foot
split level home with a fenced in pool in a private neighborhood in East
Greenwich. John has substantially neglected Sue and feeling unloved Sue files
A Rhode Island Divorce judge
could find that Sue's skill level combined with the length of time Sue has been
out of the workforce prevent
her from financially caring for herself. Under these circumstances a
Rhode Island family court judge might reasonably award Sue $2,500 a month in alimony for
a period of three years to give Sue a reasonable time to reestablish
herself in the employment marketplace or rebuild her business and/or job skills so that she can reasonably sustain herself and contribute to the well-being of their children.
EXAMPLE #2Joseph and Elouise believed their divorce would be easy. They opted to represent
themselves at their divorce hearing even though they had the money to obtain
their own divorce attorneys to protect their rights.
Joseph and Elouise have been married for eight (8) years.
Elouise has a full time job and makes about $330 per week. They do not own real estate. They do not have minor children. They have a few bank accounts,
a new car and some personal possessions that they have agreed to split.
Joseph takes the stand. He testifies that he has two undergraduate degrees
and expects to complete his Masters degree next year. Joseph testifies that he makes $62,000 a year as an intern but has been told by his employer that he will be hired and get a raise once his Masters Degree
is finalized. Joseph indicates that he knows he can support himself on his income. Joseph's testimony is
rather disjointed during the hearing. Joseph's testimony bounces back and forth between his verbal agreement with Elouise regarding their personal belongings and providing just enough information to allow the judge to draw the reasonable inferences necessary for the court to establish jurisdiction so a decision can be made in the case. The judge asks Joseph about his waiver of alimony. Joseph answers the questions and makes a proper and legal waiver of any alimony from Elouise.
Elouise takes the witness stand. Joseph asks Elouise, "Do you agree with what I just said in this court? Elouise answers "yes." Joe also asks if she
agrees to be fully responsible for the new car they bought her on credit about eight months earlier. Elouise hesitates but answers "yes". The hearing is taking much longer than necessary because Joseph's questioning is a bit repetitive. The court
calendar is busy as usual and the judge asks Joe if he has any more questions. Joseph responds that he has no more questions.
The judge renders a decision that Joseph waives alimony permanently and that
Elouise will be responsible for her own car and all its related costs and grants
Joseph his divorce.
Two months later, Elouise gets into an auto accident. She is seriously
and permanently injured and loses her job when her employer replaces her due to Elouise's extended recovery period.Elouise applies for unemployment but her employer claims she was termined "for cause" and her claim is denied. Elouise has no income. Elouise
consults and retains an experienced divorce attorney who files a Motion against Joseph to obtain alimony and contribution for Joseph to pay her auto loan which is still in Joseph's name.
Elouise could be granted extended alimony
by the court because Joseph never asked Elouise if she would waive alimony
permanently and thus the court never ordered it. Without the court's order
of a permanent waiver of alimony by Elouise she is allowed to return to court to
request alimony. Yet Elouise may not have understood that she
was assuming the full obligations of the car and she may be denied
relief on that issue.
There are several important legal issues present in Joseph's case.
Unfortunately Joseph was either unable to identify the issues or did not
appreciate their importance. An experienced Rhode Island Divorce
lawyer would most likely have identified, anticipated and endeavored to protect
Joseph against future issues such as this.
Joseph is likely to find
himself back in family court in the next few months on a Motion for Alimony filed by Elouise's attorney. Joseph's desire to save money by avoiding an attorney's fee may now cost him tens of thousands of dollars more in alimony payments than it would have cost him to get an attorney in the first instance.
Rhode Island Divorce attorney does not simply handle the divorce and family law issues that are immediately present. A good divorce or family law practitioner will seek to identify probable future issues that may arise between the parties and endeavor to take preventative measures to protect his or her client in the future.
Can you identify how many legal issues present themselves in Joseph's case?
Do you know how to effectively deal with issues in your own divorce case to minimize the possibility that you may be financially damaged 2 years from now or
even 5 years from now?
Are you aware of the steps you need to take to prevent future damage to your finances or prevent injury to your legal rights?
If you are unable to answer these questions, then I invite you to contact me for a
low-cost consultation to discuss your Rhode Island divorce or other family law
issues and your particular circumstances.
Forget the stuffy atmosphere, be prepared for a
cheerful smile and let's just talk to see how I can help you.