Alimony And Spousal Support: 3 Common Questions
Among all the questions that divorce lawyers commonly get, the vast majority have to do with alimony and spousal support, usually followed by questions about child support and child custody. It’s understandable, because the amount of money a spouse pays or receives will likely have a dramatic impact on the quality of their lives.
One thing to know upfront is that the terms alimony and spousal support mean exactly the same thing. There is no legal distinction between the two terms.
When going through a divorce for the first time, it’s very common for both spouses to feel a great deal of stress and anxiety about how much they will receive or have to pay, respectively. Those feelings naturally result in a lot of questions for each spouse’s attorney, and the most commonly asked questions are usually the following:
How Is Alimony Calculated?
A court will award alimony when one spouse needs financial assistance and the other has the ability to help. In general, the longer the marriage and the bigger the difference in earning capabilities between the spouses, the more chance for an award of alimony.
In a really long marriage, the court may award permanent alimony, although this is becoming increasingly more rare.
How Long Will Alimony Last?
How long alimony lasts depends on the length of the marriage and the relative incomes of the spouses. Also, if one spouse has been raising children and out of the work force, the court will award a longer period of alimony to allow for retraining and a return to work.
Most of the time, a divorce judgment will state a specific ending date for alimony, but if it doesn’t, the rule is usually that alimony ends when the recipient dies or remarries.
How Do I Verify My Spouse’s Income?
If one spouse suspects the other is not reporting all the money that’s coming in and they want more support based on what they think the real numbers are, they must prove it. They can testify as to what the other spouse told them about their income or have other people testify about their spouse’s income.
Another way of proving that income is being underreported is to prove that the marital lifestyle cost a certain amount and that was fully paid for with a spouse’s earnings during the marriage — leading to the conclusion that that spouse made enough to support that lifestyle.
Consulting An Attorney
It is not uncommon for some spouses, especially those with high net worth, to fight fiercely over the amount of alimony paid. Regardless of the amount of income involved, it’s very important for both spouses to have an experienced divorce lawyer representing them.
Ideally, you should contact a divorce lawyer before you make a final decision in order to evaluate your position and help you determine an appropriate course of action.
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