Authored By: Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a. " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "
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The best way to understand the request for alimony in a divorce complaint is by an example.
Let's say that Jillian and Sarah are a same-sex couple that were married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts some time ago but for many reasons their relationship has broken down due to incompatibility. Both Jillian and Sarah make about $45,000 and $57,000 respectively and they each have a fairly good job history that shows they will each be able to take care of themselves once a divorce is complete.
Jillian files for divorce in Rhode Island and Sarah counterclaims for divorce both upon the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Sarah is of the understanding that Rhode Island is substantially rehabilitative in nature and she doesn't need any rehabilitiation. Sarah realizes that she has a good long-term job so she's not concerned in the least about alimony from Jillian. Therefore, as a matter of principle, Sarah does not ask for alimony from Jillian and does not ask that Jillian be denied alimony from her. Sarah is not really concerned about the alimony aspect of divorce because she's confident she can take care of herself once the divorce is over.
Jillian just follows her lawyers advice and while she doesn't intent on pursuing the alimony portion of her divorce complaint she includes it in her complaint because her lawyer does not want her to waive such a valuable right.
During the divorce, Jillian gets in a horrible car accident and he can no longer work anymore. She is permanently disabled for life and no one is admitting to liability. Jillian's lawyer speaks to her because he realizes that if Jillian doesn't get some long term alilmony from Sarah then Jillian is not going to be able to make ends meet due to her permanent disability.
Sarah is surprised at the request for alimony and feels that since the accident wasn't her fault that she should not have to pay the price for an accident that she had no part in. Nonetheless, Sarah finds herself on the receiving end of a very serious and substantial claim for alimony because essentially Jillian has no choice otherwise she won't be able to fianancially survive.
While this is an extreme example, it is not uncommon. Accidents happen during divorces and sometimes necessitate alimony claims. Alimony is a protective measure, not a punitive one. It is intended to make sure that the parties involved who are claiming alimony are deserving of it and that it makes sense.
If you were to fill out a divorce complaint are you going to leave the request for alimony out of your request for relief due to pride, out of an abundance or respect for your partner, or because you don't think it would be fair? Or would you be cautious like Jillian did?
Divorce proceedings are also about protecting unforeseen events. Are you ready not just for the Alimony question but for the others that may come along. Have you correctly worded your divorce documents so that you do not waive your rights by accident?
Remember, lawyers don't go to law school and beat their heads against the wall for nothing. Everything has a reason and there is a reason for everything and even one misplaced word can mean the difference between protecting yourself and finding out that essentially "your screwed." Sorry for the vernacular there. Words failed me in that instance. it happens to the best of us.