The concept of spousal support, or alimony as the Washington DC laws call it, is often a major sticking point in divorces and separations. The laws in the District allow either party to petition a family court for an alimony order if the parties are separating or divorcing. These orders can last for a specific term or, even though unlikely, stretch for an indefinite period into the future.
It is essential that people who are thinking about a separation or divorce or those who anticipate it evaluate their needs concerning spousal support. Courts have broad powers to institute these orders, and you need to be prepared to argue for the fairness of an award of alimony.
A DC spousal support lawyer can provide essential advice concerning the question of alimony. A family law attorney can advise you about what a judge may consider to be fair, help identify your goals, and argue in court to make those goals a reality.
When Might an Alimony Order be Appropriate?
The statute in Washington DC that concerns alimony is the Code of the District of Columbia §16-913. Under this statute, the family court has the ability to order the payment of spousal support at the conclusion of any divorce or domestic separation case. The court can also award alimony any time during the separation or divorce proceeding. Furthermore, the court can order any alimony payment structure that it considers to be “just and proper.”
This concept of what is “just and proper” specifically includes ordering alimony for any length of time and for any amount. The statute outlines factors that the court must consider when evaluating the spousal support question. These factors include:
- Whether the party seeking alimony can support himself or herself
- The time needed for the party seeking alimony to complete education or job training
- The standard of living prior to separation or divorce
- The duration of the relationship
- The circumstances that lead to the parties’ separation or divorce
- The ages of the parties
- The financial needs and resources of either party
In short, the court has tremendous discretion in fashioning an award of alimony if and when it determines that spousal maintenance is appropriate. A Washington DC alimony attorney can help argue for or against a spousal support order.
Effects of an Alimony Order on a Divorce
The request for alimony is often a complicating and disputed issue in a divorce. Many times, couples may agree to be divorced but not to pay alimony. If one party asks for alimony, an otherwise simple process can turn into a battle lasting months or even years.
Nevertheless, either party to a divorce or separation has the right to request alimony payments or spousal support. Normally, a party will demand these payments in an initial divorce complaint, although the issue can be raised at any time in the case. If one party does raise this issue, the court must address it.
The one exception to this rule is that the court will accept any marital agreement that speaks to the issue of spousal support. A spousal support lawyer in DC can help explain the role that an alimony request can have on a divorce or separation.
A DC Spousal Support Attorney Can Fight for a Fair Spousal Support Order
The right to demand spousal support or alimony payments in a divorce is provided under Washington DC law. Either party can ask a family court to consider this issue during a separation or divorce or during the dissolution of a domestic partnership. Consideration of or discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender is unlawful, but the court will consider, for example, whether one party has given up a lucrative career to work in the home or care for children as well as both parties’ abilities to support themselves going forward.
Working with a DC spousal support lawyer can make a substantial difference in arguing for or against paying alimony in court. Whether you want to establish that an award of alimony is not only fair but necessary to support yourself, dispute the necessity or fairness of these payments, or modify them under an existing order, contact a Washington DC spousal support attorney today to discuss your options.