Getting divorced is a frightening prospect for anyone, but for spouses who have stayed at home as a parent or homemaker, it is particularly frightening to consider the end of a marriage. After all, spouses who stay at home to care for the house or the children generally don't have a recent work history.
The gap in employment history can make it incredibly difficult to find a job that pays a living wage when you try to get back into the professional world, even if you have a college degree or experience in the industry. Many employers will not consider someone who hasn't worked in years or will pay them substantially less than others.
However, you shouldn't have to stay in an unhappy or unhealthy marriage just because you don't currently make enough money to support yourself. Depending on a number of circumstances, you could qualify for spousal support, also known as alimony, under New Hampshire law when you divorce.
How do the courts decide if alimony is necessary?
Alimony is not a guarantee in any divorce. Instead, the courts will look carefully at your family circumstances to determine if ordering alimony is appropriate. Factors that the court will consider include a discrepancy in income or earning potential, the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate and the overall length of the marriage.
Someone who has been out of the job market for only a year or two may not struggle as much as those who have had a decade or more where they were dependent upon their spouse for income. A spouse who has developed medical issues during a marriage may also have a stronger claim to support.
The courts will look at other factors, including custody of the children, the standard of living during the marriage and any child support that the spouse with a higher income will pay. Even if you don't qualify for permanent alimony, you may receive temporary spousal support while you expand or modernize your skill-set to make you more competitive in the current job market.
New Hampshire has recently adjusted alimony rules
In 2018, state lawmakers passed a bill adjusting the way that the courts calculate appropriate amounts for spousal support. The idea was to make the process more fair for both the party receiving the payments and the spouse paying support.
It can be difficult to predict an exact outcome in a divorce where one spouse intends to seek alimony. If you worry about whether you may qualify for alimony, discussing your financial situation with an experienced New Hampshire family law attorney can help you make better decisions about your initial divorce strategy.