Can I Seek Spousal Maintenance after a Short Marriage?

spousal maintenance, alimony, Rolling Meadows family law attorneyEight years. That is the average length of a marriage that ends in divorce in the United States and it is among the lowest of any country in the world. Following a divorce, state laws around the country provide that, in some cases, one spouse may need financial assistance from the other for a period of time to allow the disadvantaged party the opportunity to be self-sufficient. While spousal maintenance may seem like a reasonable option for situations involving marriages that lasted a long time, many individuals considering divorce often wonder if the same type of support may be available for shorter marriages. As with most aspects of divorce, the answer is a resounding “maybe.”

Deciding on Spousal Maintenance

No matter how long your marriage may have been, you have the right to request spousal maintenance in your divorce. Of course, it may not be granted, but there is nothing stopping you from seeking it. While the length of your marriage is a factor that the court will consider when making a decision, it is only one of many considerations. Others include the income and resources of each party, how your earning capacity was affected by your role in the marriage, how you contributed to your spouse’s career or earning capacity, your needs, those of your spouse, arrangements for your children, if any, and the likelihood and time needed for you to become self-sufficient. The court will also look at the standard of living created by the marriage and determine if you should be entitled to a maintenance award.

Maintenance for Short Marriages

Once the court has determined that maintenance is appropriate and how much is to be paid—there is a formula in the law to be used in most situations—the next step is figure out how long the award should continue. In most cases, the court will use a weighted scale calculated as a percentage of the number of years that the couple was married. For marriages that lasted up to five years a maintenance award would last for 20 percent of the marriage’s duration, and 40 percent for marriages lasting up to 10 years. For example, if a couple divorced after the national average of 8 years, the length of a maintenance award would 40 percent of 8 years or about 39 months.

If your marriage lasted less than ten years, the court also has the option of making your maintenance award a fixed-term award.  This means that when the allotted length of maintenance expires, the receiving party is prohibited from seeking an extension, regardless of the current circumstances. The termination is permanent and no further action will be allowed on the matter. The purpose of fixed-term awards is to prevent unnecessary, ongoing legal battles over a marital union that only lasted for a short time.

Contact Our Office

For more information on spousal maintenance, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney. The helpful team at Cosley Law Office will review your case and assist you in understanding your options under the law. Call 847-253-3100 to schedule a free consultation today and get the answers you need to make an informed decision about your future.

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