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Spousal maintenance/alimony in Wisconsin

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Divorce

When a couple first gets married, they will have to decide how to handle their finances as a couple. In most cases, even if both spouses are working, one spouse is likely making more money than the other. This is particularly true if one spouse is not working or only working part-time.

In the event of a divorce, the higher-earning spouse may be legally obligated to pay their ex-spouse a specific amount each month. These payments are referred to as alimony, spousal support or spousal maintenance, as they typically help maintain the lifestyle you became accustomed to during the marriage.

Amount and duration of spousal support

Addressing alimony can be one of the most difficult parts of a divorce. It is possible that the payor spouse, payee spouse, or both, may be unhappy with the amount and duration of the spousal support awarded. However, Wisconsin courts consider several factors when deciding whether to award spousal support and if so, how much to award. These factors include:

  • Length of the marriage (generally, spousal support is intended for marriages lasting 10 years or longer)
  • Age, health and earning capacity of each spouse
  • Whether it is feasible for payee spouse (spouse to receive alimony) to support themselves and individually attain the lifestyle they had while married
  • Contributions made by each spouse during the marriage (financial and otherwise)
  • Division of marital property
  • Prenuptial agreement/postnuptial agreement (if parties have one)

The duration of the spousal support will likely depend on the length of the marriage. For marriages that lasted 10 to 20 years, the payee spouse may be entitled to payments for half the length of the marriage. For marriages that lasted longer than 20 years, alimony may last indefinitely (possibly until one spouse dies, or the payee spouse remarries).