In Wisconsin, alimony is officially referred to as spousal maintenance, but the concept is the same: payments made from one spouse to the other in order to lessen the financial hardship that can follow divorce.
Mutual agreement or court decision?
Many people assume alimony is always ordered by a court, however, this isn’t always the case. In Wisconsin, either spouse can request spousal maintenance no matter how or why the marriage came to an end.
Many separating couples end up agreeing that spousal maintenance is appropriate as well as the amount and length of the payments involved––all without the court ever getting involved. These agreements can be put into writing through a contract called a marital settlement agreement.
However, if a mutual agreement can’t be reached, it can be left to the court to decide if alimony should be awarded as well as how much and how long the payments will be required.
Child support and alimony in Wisconsin
If children are involved, it’s safe to assume child support will be a component of the divorce. When spousal maintenance and child support are both relevant, the court can order family support. This is simply a combination of alimony and child support payments.
What is considered when deciding on alimony?
Wisconsin has no standard criteria or formula for deciding on how much or for how long alimony payments should be. Instead, the court considers a number of factors about the marriage, the status of each spouse, and the property being divided.
In addition to these three key factors, the court will also consider:
- Education levels
- Contributions to the education or earning power of the other spouse
- Earning capacity
- Skills, training, work experience
- Needs of the child or children
- Time and expenses necessary to find employment
- Tax consequences of alimony
The court is also allowed to examine any other relevant information concerning a spouse’s needs or ability to pay maintenance.
Changing or terminating alimony payments in Wisconsin
In nearly every case, courts will only change alimony when a spouse’s circumstances change significantly. Losing a job, or experiencing a major increase in the cost of living are two common situations that may prompt a change.
Alimony can also be changed if the receiving spouse comes into a more financially sustainable situation. Moving in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend or coming into money through an inheritance are two common examples of this.
Payments end completely when either spouse dies or the receiving spouse remarries. It’s important to note that it’s up to the paying spouse to provide proof of remarriage to the court and receive a court order before stopping payments.
Taxes and alimony in Wisconsin
Wisconsin adheres to the IRS structure for taxing spousal maintenance. Those paying alimony deduct the amount paid each year. Conversely, those receiving support must declare it as income.
Have additional questions about alimony or spousal maintenance in Wisconsin? Is an ex-spouse refusing to pay alimony or child support? It’s important to contact an experienced Beloit family law attorney as soon as possible. Click here for a free consultation with the Fitzgerald Law Firm.
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