male judge reading documentsThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing spousal support awards in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our previous post provided an overview of the topics to be addressed in this series. It also emphasized the importance of retaining an experienced divorce attorney to aggressively represent your interests. In this article, we will explain how Arkansas Courts determine whether and how much alimony is to be awarded to a party in a divorce. Given the significant financial impact of this determination, it is essential to engage counsel to explain your rights and obligations. If you are in need of assistance, contact our office today to speak to a lawyer.

In many states, legislatures have adopted statutes setting forth the guidelines and formulas to determine appropriate spousal support awards. In Arkansas, on the other hand, the determination about whether alimony should be granted, the amount of support, and length of the award is purely in the Court’s discretion. A Judge will consider all relevant evidence and attempt to establish an equitable result for both parties. When there is a significant financial disparity between the parties, the Judge may order one spouse to make alimony payments. There are certain factors that will impact the court’s spousal support award decisions. These include the financial position of each party when leaving the marriage. A Court may consider the extent to which one party requires retraining before entering the workforce. A contribution of one party to the other’s ability to excel in a career and achieve a high level of compensation may become an important factor. Other facts such as the length of the marriage, ongoing child support obligations, and earning potential may be considered as well.

Depending upon the specific facts of each case, support may be awarded on a temporary basis while the divorce is pending, extended for a specific period of time after the case is final, or, in rare cases, be granted permanently. Consider the following example. Bob has been a stay-at-home dad for 15 years. Prior to having children, he and his wife Sue were both computer programmers. In the time that Bob has not worked, Sue has excelled in her career and makes a significant income. Bob’s skills are now outdated and it would be difficult for him to find employment in the tech field without significant retraining. When Sue files for divorce, Bob is awarded temporary alimony to help support himself until the case is final. Bob asks the Court to approve additional spousal support so that he can go back to school to update his skills on a part-time basis while continuing to be the primary caregiver for their children. The Judge also considers the length of their marriage, the family’s standard of living, Bob’s lack of independent financial resources, and his long-term contributions and sacrifices regarding their childcare and Sue’s successful career. Based on these factors, the Court may determine that Bob is entitled to receive alimony for a period of time to update his skills so that his job prospects are improved and to maintain a similar home and quality of life for their kids until he is able to find gainful employment.

The Court’s alimony determination will be based on the facts of each specific situation. An experienced divorce attorney can help you identify important details that may impact your support award. If you need assistance, contact our office today to speak to a Little Rock lawyer. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.