Securing needed alimony can be challenging for stay-at-home Utah parents
Stay-at-home parents often lose earning power when they leave the workforce, but judges may fail to recognize this when making alimony determinations.
Stay-at-home parents in Ogden often give up career and earnings opportunities to raise their children. These parents often lose out on professional connections, opportunities for advancement and earning power. Many parents assume that, in the event of a divorce, these losses will be taken into account. However, this isn’t always the case.
Often, it can be difficult for stay-at-home parents to secure appropriate financial support after divorce. In Utah, family law judges do not have to directly consider a spouse’s lost earning potential when awarding spousal support. Consequently, stay-at-home spouses may be at risk for losing out on appropriate alimony awards.
Current alimony considerations
Utah family law judges may award spousal support based on various factors. Generally, family law judges weigh the following variables when determining alimony awards:
- The financial need and earning capacity of the person seeking alimony
- The other spouse’s ability to pay alimony
- The length of the marriage
- The contributions that each spouse made to the other’s education or skills
- The fault of either spouse in the divorce
To evaluate earning capacity, family law judges primarily look at a spouse’s past work experience and passive income. Family law judges also consider a spouse’s current ability to work.
Under some circumstances, a judge may recognize that work is not reasonably available to a stay-at-home spouse. For instance, employment may not be feasible for a spouse who suffers from a serious health condition. However, some judges may fail to acknowledge the ways that leaving the workforce can limit a spouse’s ability to work gainfully.
Legal changes proposed
Earlier this year, Utah lawmakers introduced a bill that sought to address this issue. This legislation would require family law judges to consider the effects of leaving the workforce when evaluating each spouse’s earning potential. Specifically, judges would have to consider how a spouse’s loss of working experience could affect the spouse’s earning power.
According to Deseret News, critics of the bill contend that current alimony laws already allow judges to account for this. Some critics worry that the proposed change could result in spouses receiving alimony based on their marital roles, rather than financial need. The bill hasn’t yet passed, and it may fail due to these concerns. If it succeeds, however, it could offer significant benefits for divorcing stay-at-home parents.
Pursuing adequate alimony
Regardless of whether this legislation passes, it may remain challenging for many Utah spouses to secure adequate alimony awards. It is essential for these spouses to accurately present their need, vocational background and future prospects during divorce proceedings. Often, these spouses may benefit from seeking the assistance of a family law attorney who can help them pursue adequate support.