Temporary Alimony Is Just To "Keep The Ship Afloat" 


Alimony paid during the period of time between your separation and the final divorce is called “temporary” alimony. Temporary alimony awards are determined by the relative and combined incomes and expenses of the divorcing spouses. The principal concern at this stage of is to maintain the “status quo” which, in most cases, means allocating the money which is available in a way which will keep things operating as closely as possible to the way in which they operated before the separation. More often than not, money is short, and you must decide decide how the “short” pot of money is to be allocated. “Keeping the ship afloat” aptly describe what alimony is about at this stage of a divorce proceeding.


Fault Is Not Very Important

A spouse asking for temporary support based upon need does not need to prove the “merits” or “possible merits” of their grounds for divorce before being to entitled to temporary alimony. The fact that they may be at "fault” for the breakup of the marriage is not relevant to “maintaining the status quo.” This rule is almost universal.  If “fault” would bar an award of temporary alimony, the number of courtroom battles that would be fought over one spouse’s entitlement to temporary alimony would expand exponentially. It would become a standard tactic for (1) the spouses who have the most money or (2) the spouses who are the most passionate,  insistent or self-righteous about “what is fair”, and “who is to blame”, to dig in their heels and wage the first battle of the divorce at this early stage. This would not only clog the system at the entry level, but it would also have the practical effect of defeating even legitimate claims by the spouses who are most in need ie. those who have minimal financial tools, resources and options.  Deprived of any realistic hope of having their position presented and advocated effectively, very few suits by the economically dependent spouse could ever be successful.

The "Costs of Your Legal "Rights

Absent an agreement with your spouse, your “right” to temporary alimony can be turned into real bill-paying dollars only by first convincing a  Court to order your spouse to pay temporary alimony and then to enforce that right by actually collecting the money. The time and effort that lies between being your “legally entitlement” and actually having the money in hand may involve a significant financial and emotional hardship. If you are not financially and emotionally equipped to “stay the course”, it can be a very challenging road.  For the spouse in need, bridging the gap between your separation and actually receiving some money is where advance planning can bear the greatest benefit. Without money or credit to bridge this gap, you may be forced into a personal situation which is difficult to tolerate. Making it from the time you separate separation until you actually receive  temporary alimony award requires perseverance, endurance, patience and money.

What Expenses Are Relevant?

The factors which a trial judge must consider at the time of a final divorce cannot be fully developed in a preliminary hearing which forms the basis of a temporary alimony award. Only after a full and complete hearing on the merits of the respective claims of the parties can a judge arrive at a judgment which has a greater degree of permanency than the judgment reached after a hearing on temporary alimony. The actual expenditures made “to  survive”  immediately following a separation may not always reflect what is needed, and they should not, theoretically, be a precedent for in establishing the amount of a temporary alimony award.  The amount required to maintaining the “status quo” may depend upon the parties’ pre-separation lifestyle.




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