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Protecting What Matters Most

Marital fault and alimony

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2021 | Alimony

Many Rhode Island marriages end because of misconduct such as domestic violence, abandonment, substance abuse, or adultery. One question that many people have is if they are still obligated to pay alimony to their ex-spouses when the latter were at fault. Another question is whether the party who is found to have committed the misconduct might face other sanctions.

Does marital misconduct affect alimony?

Spousal support, or alimony, is a court-ordered payment that one ex-spouse regularly makes to the other after a divorce. Usually, alimony is awarded when the spouses have been married for a long time and have unequal earning power. It is unlikely for the judge to award alimony if you have only been married for a few years. For instance, in Rhode Island, the judge may be less inclined to award alimony if you have been married for less than 10 years, unless there is a special circumstance warranting it.

Marriage is an economic partnership

Regardless of who earns more or less, marriage is considered an economic partnership, and each spouse should have equal benefits to the family income. Alimony acts to concede this partnership in a marriage.

Over time, couples become accustomed to the standard of living established in their marriage. So, if one partner earns higher than the other, generally, they are obligated to support their ex-spouse to at least maintain the kind of life they got used to.

Circumstances that affect alimony

Some instances will make the court reluctant to award alimony. For example, if the marital misconduct in question resulted in dissipation of marital funds, like using marital assets to support adultery, hiding assets, gambling, engaging in tax fraud or any other fraudulent dealings, and any other activity that puts marital funds at risk. Another circumstance includes engaging in misconduct that is shocking, such as if one spouse attempts to murder the other or transmits a bad disease to them.

Do you need legal assistance?

Getting through a divorce and working out the amount payable or receivable for alimony is a complex process that can be difficult to handle alone. Having the guidance of an experienced family law attorney can be advisable.