If the Wife Files for Divorce, Can She Get Alimony?

Alimony for a wife following a divorce is a far less common practice than child support. However, if she has sufficient grounds for its appointment under the current legislation, the court may oblige the husband to support his wife during and/or after the marriage dissolution.

Given these circumstances, many spouses preparing to end their marital relations wonder: “If a wife filed for divorce, can she get alimony?” The answer to this question will depend on many factors, but one thing can be said for sure: when a woman files for divorce, she has the same right to receive alimony as her husband if he or she meets the requirements for granting it.

Can a working wife get alimony? Not really. In most cases, only people who cannot provide for their own needs can expect financial assistance after a divorce in Indiana.

So, on what grounds can the court approve your requests for spousal support, and how long after divorce can you get alimony? In this article, we will consider these questions and analyze the types of maintenance, their purpose, duration, and possibility of change over time.

Before Filing for Divorce, Learn All About Alimony: What It Is, How It Works, and How It’s Enforced

Alimony in divorce, called spousal maintenance in Indiana, is financial payments that can be assigned during or after the dissolution of marriage for one spouse to support the other.

What is alimony based on? Although many people think that the maintenance of one spouse is intended to equalize the financial situation of both parties, it is not so. Actually, the purpose of alimony after divorce is to help the non-supporting spouse have comfortable living conditions and pay for necessities.

Who pays alimony in a divorce? Spousal support was previously paid by husbands, as only wives were entitled to it. This restriction does not apply today, as the court can order either party to make payments. So, do women pay alimony? Yes, if their husbands are not able to work and cannot earn enough to achieve a satisfactory standard of living. However, in most cases, a husband still makes alimony divorce payments to the wife because they usually build a career during the marriage, while women raise children or take care of the household.

You can determine who gets alimony in a divorce yourself if your case is uncontested and you plan to conclude a Marital Settlement Agreement. In it, you can specify who will receive financial assistance and what its amount and duration will be.

If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, the judge will determine who has to pay alimony in a divorce at the request of one of the parties. The petitioner may ask for maintenance when filing a divorce petition, and the respondent may do the same when submitting a counterclaim to the clerk’s office.

How long do you have to be married to get alimony? In Indiana, there is no specific requirement for marriage duration when it comes to granting alimony. Instead, the grounds for alimony are strictly limited and allow parties to receive it only if one of the spouses:

  1. Is unable to work due to the health condition.
  2. Is the guardian of a child with a disability.
  3. Needs support to obtain a sufficient level of vocational training or education for employment.

In the following sections, we will focus on the available types of alimony so that you can answer the question: “Can I get alimony after divorce, taking into account my case-specific circumstances?”

Lump Sum Alimony

Usually, spousal support is paid once a month or several months over a certain period of time. However, such regular payments may be replaced by a one-time pay-out that cannot be modified later.

In Indiana, lump sum support is recognized by law only if one of the parties invested in the postsecondary education of the other spouse during the marriage, provided they have little or no marital property (IN Code § 31-15-7-6).

No other grounds exist for an Indiana court to order lump sum assistance. You can agree on it under other circumstances only on your own if your divorce is uncontested.

Temporary Alimony

The court assigns temporary spousal maintenance for the period of the divorce process. It ends immediately after the final decisions on the dissolution of marriage and its terms are made.

Given that the separation of parties usually leads to financial difficulties for one or both of them, temporary alimony aims to help the party with low or no income while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.

In Indiana, temporary alimony can be ordered by the agreement of parties or by the court. The judge will determine its amount independently, taking into account its fairness and propriety (IN Code §31-15-4-8). Payments for this spousal support should be made through the county clerk or by another method approved by the court.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This kind of spousal maintenance can be ordered by the court so that one of the parties who is unemployed because of insufficient training or experience can support themselves following the divorce. Rehabilitative alimony is legal in Indiana and may be granted to a husband or wife who can demonstrate that during the marriage, they focused on taking care of the family or children rather than pursuing education or a career.

When determining the appointment of rehabilitative financial assistance, the judge will pay attention to the following:

  1. The spouses’ level of education at the time of marriage and at the beginning of the divorce process.
  2. Whether the requesting party had a break in education or career during the marriage due to raising children or taking care of the house.
  3. The parties’ earning capacity according to their education, professional skills, and work experience.
  4. Time and money the requesting spouse needs to get the education or training necessary for employment.

Parties agreeing on rehabilitative support on their own can determine how long it will last themselves. If spouses disagree, the judge will define and appoint its duration. According to the current legislation, it can last for no more than three years from the moment of issuing a court order (IN Code §31-15-7-2(3)).

Durational Alimony

Durational spousal support in Indiana can be awarded under two major circumstances. One of them is a disability of either party, due to which they cannot work and earn on their own.

If one of the spouses proves by medical certificates or expert testimony that the state of their mental or physical health prevents employment, the court can award alimony for the entire period of their incapacity. The court will determine the exact duration and amount of financial support, considering how long the incapacity may last and how much financial assistance it requires (IN Code §31-15-7-2(1)).

Moreover, according to IN Code §31-15-7-2(2), the court may grant durational alimony to one of the spouses who:

  1. Has an insufficient list of property, including ownership received as a result of division during divorce, to meet the needs
  2. Is the guardian of a child with a physical or mental incapacity, which prevents employment.

If only one of these conditions is met, no financial support may be awarded.

To prove the child’s incapacity, the spouse must provide expert testimony or medical documentation confirming it. Besides, they will need to prepare information about the property in their possession.

The length of these payments depends on the nature of the child’s incapacity, its potential duration, and the amount of support children and one of their parents need.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent spousal support is another type of alimony that is sometimes awarded in other states but not recognized in Indiana.

Its objective is to maintain the spouse financially in case they are unable to resume their employment. It is typically appointed by the court if the marriage lasted for no less than 20 years.

Does alimony last forever in this situation? Yes, it will be so if the court awards it because one of the spouses cannot become self-supporting due to age, state of health, or other circumstances.

Although permanent support is not provided under Indiana law, the long-term disability of one spouse can result in ordering alimony for a very long time.

How to get out of permanent alimony? In most cases, it ends only when the receiving party remarries, or one of the former spouses dies.

Is There Any Way to Avoid Paying Alimony?

If the court orders you to support the other spouse financially, you must follow the decision until the time specified in the divorce decree or until the other party remarries or dies. Avoiding alimony without a good reason can lead to negative consequences. A judge can fine you for contempt of court and seize your property or funds.

Insufficient income to maintain the other party can change the situation, though. How to avoid alimony on legal grounds? You must notify the court that you do not earn enough to support the other spouse before the divorce decree is issued.

How to avoid paying alimony after you become insolvent? If your financial situation has changed significantly over time due to job loss, illness, or other circumstances, you can ask the court to stop the support of the other party on a temporary or permanent basis (IN Code §31-15-7-3).

How to stop alimony payments step by step? You need to file a motion with the court to revise the ordered maintenance in accordance with the new circumstances.

Can Alimony Be Modified?

According to IN Code §31-15-7-3, modification of alimony can be made for the following reasons:

  1. There has been a significant change in circumstances under which the conditions of the court order can no longer be fulfilled.
  2. It can be proven that the amount of granted support differs by more than 20% from what should have been awarded according to the instructions, provided the order for their appointment was issued at least 12 months earlier.

So, can alimony be changed after divorce? Yes, the court can modify it if one of the above requirements is met and the party seeking to review its amount submits a respective request to the court.

Does alimony change if income changes? Yes, spousal support can be adjusted if the difference in income from the previous level is sufficient to modify the amount of payments.

In Indiana, several types of spousal support may be awarded based on state laws. Spouses can agree on the amount and payment terms themselves or apply to the court with a request to grant alimony. It can be given to either a husband or a wife, regardless of who filed for divorce. In some cases, it may be modified or canceled over time.