By the time their divorces are finalized, most people are eager to move on with their lives separately. They have divided marital and nonmarital property and worked out child custody if the family included children. Many divorcing couples also must determine alimony and child support payments. In some cases, having to pay alimony is the most unpleasant outcome of the entire divorce.
Alimony is a financial payment made by one spouse to another based on multiple factors including income and duration of the marriage. Payment may be in a lump sum or ongoing, terminating on a specified date or lasting until the recipient remarries or dies. The financial impact of alimony can be huge, causing the paying party to find ways to fight alimony in divorce.
Having to pay alimony in addition to child support can make spousal support financially damaging. Child support takes precedence over alimony and the amounts of each vary based on the circumstances. If the other party does not work, a divorcing spouse may be required to pay as much as 40 percent of net income in alimony after child support has been deducted. Since payers can deduct half of the other party’s net income, it helps if the recipient is working.
If a divorcing couple can agree on an alimony amount that both parties deem fair and a judge accepts it, they can avoid time in court, saving themselves money. A spouse entitled to alimony may choose to waive it and a family lawyer can help the couple document this in writing. If the individual petitioning for divorce is the party entitled to alimony, the alimony waiver may be included in the divorce petition, eliminating some steps in the divorce process.
When determining whether alimony is warranted, the deciding factor is whether the money is required to maintain the pre-divorce standard of living. At the time of divorce, the answer may be yes. However, circumstances can change and if they do, alimony amounts can be renegotiated. A family lawyer can help an individual file a petition for alimony modification with the court.
By making a strong case, a divorcing spouse can fight alimony in divorce or afterward. Help from a legal expert is recommended because the process can be complicated. Money saved once the alimony is reduced or terminated is usually more than enough to offset the cost of a family law attorney, allowing for improvement in the standard of living.