Outside the legal realm, few people deal with divorce more than once or twice in their life. As a result, New Hampshire’s new approach to spousal support during separation or after divorce may have passed below the radar of some of the people it may affect.

If you are currently undergoing a divorce or are considering one, it is best to know the facts.

How is spousal support defined?

The common word for payments from one former spouse to the other in order to support their financial needs is ‘alimony.’ Court orders or settlements over alimony vary widely, but the point is to offer spouses a chance to maintain at least a reasonable standard of living.

How did New Hampshire change its approach?

A new law, effective in 2019, adds standards for awarding, changing and ending alimony. Alimony may now be claimed at any time from legal separation to up to five years after the legal divorce date. The requesting spouse must prove a financial need as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay.

Are there any other new restrictions?

Alimony may not last longer than half the length of the marriage or a spouse’s working age without an agreement between the parties or a necessary adjustment in the interest of justice based on the unique facts of the case. Remarriage or a payee’s death officially terminates any term of alimony.

Do you need a lawyer to request alimony?

Both parties in a divorce generally have legal representation. Even in matters for which one is not required, an attorney can be a good adviser and can help you understand the strategy that it takes to make a successful claim for spousal support.