By Erik Carter
Cordell & Cordell Divorce Attorney
Most states’ divorce laws permit a court to order temporary spousal maintenance (“temporary” meaning “during the pendency of the divorce”).
Where I practice, there is no worksheet for calculation for such maintenance, as there is for temporary child support or for contribution to college expenses of children.
The general rule that courts use is to examine the other party’s necessary expenses, subtract from that any income or child support that party may receive, and then use that difference to decide on any award of temporary spousal maintenance.
There may be other considerations, such as the amount of debt you may be ordered to pay, including any mortgages or insurances during the pendency of the litigation.
It is not uncommon for a higher-earning spouse to agree to pay temporary spousal maintenance, either to save on costs of litigation or out of recognition of necessity.
This can be in the form of a regular payment of cash, or it can be in your agreeing to pay certain bills on behalf of your spouse.
1. Joint access to a joint bank account
This should be avoided as much as possible. This gives your spouse access to, and control over, a portion of money you may require to live on. It also runs the risk of the other spouse failing to inform you timely of large or unexpected withdrawals, which could lead to overdraft charges and bounced payments.
2. Ongoing payment and use of credit cards
The need for temporary spousal maintenance is based most often on a party’s need for money to bridge the gap between his or her income and expenses. However, if you agree to pay the other spouse’s credit cards on an ongoing basis, then that other spouse can simply put all expenses on the credit cards, make you pay them, and pocket any other money you are ordered to pay (or income that he or she has coming in).
3. Auto insurance
Any agreement to pay auto insurance, especially for children, should be capped at the current rate. This is to protect against the insurance premiums being raised due to tickets, accidents, or arrest of the insured, and you now being liable for that increased cost.
4. Cell phones
Any agreement to pay for your spouse’s use of a cell phone should be for the minimal cost and usage. Your spouse should be removed from any data plan or text message plan that varies with usage, or your payment should be capped at a minimal amount. You should not have to pay for your spouse to play on Facebook or download games.
The division of bills and payment of temporary spousal maintenance is a financial consideration only. States do not anticipate that a spouse will profit or go bankrupt during the pendency of a divorce.
Courts generally do not look more or less favorably on a spouse who wanted to be generous or cooperative during the litigation phase of a divorce.
The goal of any agreement for temporary spousal maintenance should be to provide minimal maintenance for your spouse, so that he or she is not so comfortable with the temporary arrangement that there is no incentive to end it.
To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Indiana Divorce Lawyer Erik Carter, contact Cordell & Cordell.