You must understand the laws and parameters involved when seeking or paying alimony. It can help you negotiate a more palatable settlement. For instance, you can show that a spouse’s actual earnings are insufficient using profit and loss statements. It can allow you to increase alimony.
How Long The Marriage Lasted
The length of the marriage impacts the type of alimony awarded. Short marriages usually only involve a small monthly amount to help the lesser-earning spouse get on their feet financially. This amount may cover basic expenses or more than the higher-earning spouse earns. These payments usually only last a few months or taper off soon after the divorce decree is entered. Longer marriages typically result in longer alimony, which can either be durational or nondurational. But so, what is durational alimony? A judge may provide durational alimony to support the receiving spouse financially for a predetermined amount of time. In cases where the marriage was short-lived, moderate-term, or long-lived, the amount of durational alimony awarded cannot exceed 50%, 60%, or 75% of the length of the marriage, respectively. It depends on how long the beneficiary will take to become self-sufficient and if the judge believes that the standard of living can legitimately be compared to that experienced during the marriage. Factors that may play into this include health and age, which can significantly impact earning potential. The court will order the paying spouse to pay a lump sum or periodic support. In most cases, the payments must be reported to the IRS and taxed as income for the recipient’s spouse. Before 2019, the paying spouse could deduct these payments, but this is no longer possible for orders entered in 2019 and beyond.
The Earning Capacity of Each Party
The laws in each state differ, but judges typically base alimony (also known as maintenance) on a formula that is usually 30% of the paying spouse’s net income minus 20% of the recipient’s net income. That’s the baseline, but courts can adjust that number based on many factors, including each party’s age and health, their standard of living during the marriage and their ability to earn going forward. The longer the marriage lasted, the more likely a judge would award higher amounts of alimony for a longer period. In addition to the formula, judges will consider whether either party can become self-supporting in a reasonably comparable lifestyle to their marital one. They may also consider the parties’ saving habits – a habit that often includes retirement savings and investments. A seasoned family law attorney should know all these considerations and learn how to help create an alimony agreement both parties are comfortable.
The Needs of Each Party
Unlike child support, which is calculated to maintain the financial level of one spouse while children are living with the non-custodial parent, alimony is designed to allow a former spouse to live their marital lifestyle for a specific period. Judges consider various factors when setting spousal support payments to determine a fair amount. For instance, a judge may consider the age and health of each party when deciding about alimony. A court also takes into account each spouse’s earning capacity. If a spouse went back to school and trained as a sculptor, for example, a court may impute income to that spouse that is consistent with their professional earning potential. A divorced spouse must understand what factors determine alimony or maintenance awards. It allows them to work with their attorney to negotiate and settle a fair alimony agreement. A judge will decide if a couple cannot reach an alimony agreement.
The Financial Resources of Each Party
The decision to award alimony (also known as “spousal support“) to a spouse during divorce proceedings is based on a few. In cases where both parties are walking away with assets that meet or exceed their individual needs, a court may not award alimony at all. It is important to consider your financial situation from a 360-degree perspective, which can be difficult to do without the help of an experienced family law attorney. There are many ways to negotiate alimony during a divorce, including mediation. A skilled mediator can help you create a final settlement for everyone involved. Contact a local mediator for more information.