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Spousal Support (Alimony)

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What is spousal support?

Spousal support is also known as alimony. During separation or divorce proceedings, the court may award one party to pay the other party spousal support. The goal of alimony is to provide the lower-income spouse with money for living expenses over and above the money provided by child support. Alimony is different from child support. Where child support is a simple mathematical calculation using guidelines published by your state, alimony is very much in the discretion of the judge.

In Wyoming the purpose of alimony is to provide a post-divorce substitute for the support provided to a spouse during the marriage. Alimony is most often provided for the support and maintenance of a former spouse who is unable to adequately provide for him or herself.

Martens v. Martens, 364 P.2d 995 (Wyo. 1961)

Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-114

Are there different types of spousal support?

Yes, there are three different types of spousal support.

  • Transitional Support
    • The judge looks at what support is necessary to help the spouse get an education or training to re-enter the job market.
  • Compensatory Support
    • The judge decides what will repay a spouse for a major financial or other contribution to the education, career, or earning ability of the other spouse.
  • Spousal Maintenance
    • The judge considers what support is appropriate to keep a standard of living similar to what was enjoyed in the marriage. This support can be ordered for a specific amount of time or can be permanent.

What factors does the court consider when deciding whether to award spousal support?

In determining whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support, the court has broad discretion. The main factors that the court takes into consideration are:

  • The ability of the spouse to pay and
  • The necessity of support to the other spouse.

Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-114

When does spousal support end?

Unless otherwise stated in the divorce decree, spousal support ends when either party dies or when the person receiving the support remarries. The decree can set forth other terms for ending spousal support, too.

Can spousal support be modified?

Yes. Either party can petition to have the spousal support modified if he or she can prove that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances that makes modification necessary.

Wyo. Stat. § 20-2-116