Joining finances during marriage and making strategic decisions for the benefit of the household can leave one spouse financially dependent on the other. Having someone stay home is often more fiscally responsible than paying for child care and outsourcing other tasks, like shopping and cooking.
If the couple in question eventually divorces, the dependent spouse can potentially ask for alimony from the New Hampshire family courts. Sometimes called spousal support or maintenance, alimony involves the regular payments from one spouse to the other after the dissolution of their marriage.
Alimony can sometimes be permanent but often only lasts for a specific period. How long can you expect an alimony order from a divorce to last? The duration will be important both for the financial planning of the individual paying it and the person receiving it.
Who determines the length of spousal maintenance payments?
Under New Hampshire law, there are typically two different ways to set the duration and amount of alimony. The first involves a judge ordering alimony at the request of one spouse during contested divorce proceedings. The judge will review family circumstances carefully and then apply state law to determine what duration and amount for spousal support are reasonable.
The goal is usually to provide the dependent spouse with support while they re-enter the workforce or to help them maintain a reasonable standard of living if they are unable to support themselves due to health conditions or other special circumstances. Alimony set by the courts usually ends when spouses reach retirement age. It can also end when the recipient dies or remarries.
The second way to set alimony amounts and duration is through a marital agreement. Couples that have prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can defer to those documents for the terms of support after the divorce. It may also be possible for spouses to negotiate terms independently before they file for an uncontested divorce.
Can you ask to end or extend alimony payments?
Whether you pay or receive alimony, your life and financial circumstances may change drastically. It’s also possible that the other party may have a change in their ability to pay for their need to receive support.
Whether a dependent spouse remarries or the person paying alimony loses their job, it may be necessary to revisit the terms or request a modification of the original order.