Marriage and divorce issues are difficult to maneuver because they are not often governed by reason but by emotion. When you enter into a marriage, it’s reasonable to expect the best possible outcome – happily ever after. However, bad things happen, and in marriage, divorce is often the final result when you can’t make a marriage work any longer. When a couple divorces, they split their assets, and sometimes one party is less capable of earning or has less property. Alimony or spousal maintenance is paid to offset the differential in assets and property for a predetermined time period.
Understanding How Alimony Works in Iowa
In divorce cases, a judge has the power to award alimony. The judge also sets the perimeters of the maintenance payments, like the amount to be paid and when payments will end. While judges have considerable leeway when it comes to maintenance awards, they still have to follow the law. So, they can only award alimony if certain conditions are met.
The judge will review several factors before making a decision about payments:
- Each spouses’ property post property division
- The proposed maintenance recipient’s ability to be independent and self-supporting
- The time it would take for the proposed party to acquire the education and training necessary to find suitable employment
- The marriage’s length
- The demographics of the spouse seeking maintenance, like age, health, and emotional condition
- The tax ramifications of payments
- The fault of either spouse in the divorce
Many couples erroneously think of the payments as a reward for winning the case or a penalty you pay because you were at fault. In Iowa, maintenance payments are awarded using criteria, like the list as mentioned earlier. Maintenance payments are also paid to ensure both spouses retain the same quality of life they enjoyed before the marriage ended. The court will also award payments to avoid financial devastation to one spouse. This situation is more common in cases where there is an extreme earning gap between the spouses.
What Role Does Adultery Play in an Iowa Divorce and Alimony Decisions?
Most states have transitioned to “no-fault” divorce systems where the petitioning spouse only needs to prove the marriage is irrevocably broken, and neither party is responsible for the break. Iowa divorce laws work the same way, so cheating and infidelity can’t hurt or help your case. In the Iowa appellate case Orgren, 375 N.W.2d 710, 712, the court stated that the purpose and reason for awarding alimony was support, so fault had no role to play in the proceedings. It further clarified that adultery is irrelevant to the questions of alimony because the sole question is whether one former spouse can afford the maintenance payments for the other and are those payments necessary. While cheating won’t help or hurt your Iowa divorce, you should get help legal representation to help ensure you get a fair and equitable plan in place.
The Law Office of Mark R. Hinshaw, PLC, can discuss the details of your divorce case with you. Call us today at (515) 200-7571 to schedule your initial consultation.