The Iowa court authorizes other child support payments to ease the transition to single life

UPDATED: MARCH 18, 2022 AT 12:24 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday officially recognized interim alimony as a new type of support to consider in divorce cases, joining several other states in accepting the practice.

The Iowa court’s decision came in the case of a Dubuque doctor who was appealing a decision by the Iowa Court of Appeals awarding his ex-wife $1.2 million in 12-year child support. The Supreme Court ruled that factors in marriage supported the need for an alternative to traditional alimony.

The court said interim alimony can remedy an injustice not addressed by the other recognized categories of assistance.

“Divorcing spouses have to adjust to being single. If one is better equipped to make this adjustment and the other faces difficulties, interim maintenance can be granted to address that inequality and close the gap,” the court wrote. “We now officially recognize transitional alimony as another tool to bring about justice.”

The new type of ex-spousal support can be considered in combination with previous types of maintenance if one spouse’s education or training needs are significantly out of balance.

The current three types of alimony are rehabilitating, supporting a spouse who has left the workforce to care for children or otherwise support the home to help them return to work; reimbursement, which relates to the economic sacrifices made by one spouse during the marriage that directly enhance the other’s future earning capacity; and traditional, which pays for life or as long as a dependent spouse is unable to support themselves.

Several other states are already considering transitional alimony, including Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Tennessee.

The Iowa court, at the request of Dr. Suraj Pazhoor temporary alimony. The Supreme Court ruled his ex-wife Hancy Chennikkara was awarded too much for too long. It said spousal support was not required in this case, but that judges should henceforth balance justice in awarding spousal support to bridge “the gap” from married to single life.

It said the factors in Pazhoor and Chennikkara’s marriage support a modified traditional alimony and a $714,000 rehabilitative alimony over seven years. The court said there would be enough time for Hancy Chennikkara to pursue a master’s degree to increase her earning capacity while working part-time and sharing physical care for her children.

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