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Obtaining Alimony Under Special Circumstances

In Rhode Island, alimony awards are quite limited and designed to provide short-term support to allow the recipient spouse to become financially independent and self-sufficient after divorce. Since state law requires the family court judge to review a number of factors before determining whether one spouse qualifies for alimony payments from the other spouse, obtaining an alimony award can be difficult. However, the existence of special circumstances can make an alimony award more likely.

Alimony is intended to be a rehabilitative tool. Therefore, when deciding whether to award alimony, the extent to which a spouse can be self-supporting after divorce is an important consideration reviewed by the court. Any of the following circumstances can make it more difficult for an individual to become financially independent after divorce, and as a result, a more likely candidate for an alimony award:

  • When a spouse is temporarily or permanently disabled. If the spouse’s disability makes it difficult to find employment, an alimony award may be appropriate.
  • When a spouse puts aside career aspirations to raise a child or minor children. As a result of the spouse’s absence from the workforce while fulfilling homemaking responsibilities, that spouse’s education, skills or experience may have become outmoded and it may be difficult to find employment. An alimony award in this instance allows the spouse to obtain employment training or education to become self-supporting in the future.
  • When one spouse is the primary physical custodian of a child whose age, condition or circumstances make it appropriate that the spouse not seek employment outside the home. This is applicable when the parties have young children or a child is severely disabled, therefore making it difficult or impossible for the spouse to seek employment outside the home.

If you are considering filing for divorce or are presently going through a divorce, our sensitive Rhode Island divorce lawyers can assist you with your request for alimony and ensure that your rights are protected.