The topic of alimony is one of the most misunderstood topics in family law. Unfortunately, most of the general public’s information on this topic is derived from misinformation or complete fabrication, and there are no formulas to use to determine how to establish how the alimony should be calculated.
Most people have met an individual who is either paying alimony or is receiving alimony. Generally, people seem to understand the concept behind alimony. It is one spouse supporting the other spouse after the parties separate. In divorce cases, some people are awarded temporary alimony. Temporary alimony supports this individual during the period of his/her divorce case. After the divorce is finalized, those that qualify, will continue to receive alimony for a period of months, years, or even permanently, subject only to certain circumstances that may terminate his/her alimony award. We have all met someone who boasts about the amount of alimony they are receiving and we have all met someone who complains about the amount of alimony they are paying. The unknown of what a person will pay or what a person could or should receive adds to the already stressful situation that surrounds a dissolution case.
There are a number of factors that a Court must consider when evaluating one party’s ability to provide alimony and the other party’s need to receive alimony. The simplest formula to calculate this amount is one party’s need versus the other party’s ability to pay; however, the actual calculation becomes far more complicated. For example, many people’s understanding of alimony is based upon what they hear from others. While people cannot necessarily control what they hear, it is highly ill advised to ever accept what a friend, co-worker or family member tells you as the gospel truth. If your neighbor is receiving $5,000.00 per month in alimony, this does not have any relevance to your case and your family dynamics. Similarly, if your co-worker is only paying $500.00 per month in alimony; this does not have any relevance to your case and your family dynamics. Once the amount of alimony is determined, the Judge is now charged with the task of determining the duration of the alimony which is another potentially complex calculation that could have serious consequences if managed incorrectly. This is where a person’s dreams might never materialize into reality. Regardless of your circumstances, if alimony is an issue in your case you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney to help you appropriately resolve this issue.
At Schwam-Wilcox & Associates the attorneys can analyze your case to determine if there is a need and an ability to pay alimony. Then we can help determine what type of alimony could be potentially awarded based on the ten (10) factors in the statute and the history of alimony awards before your assigned Judge. There are also certain tax implications and those are about to change (see previous blog titled: New Federal Law Affects the Practice of Family Law written January 24, 2018).
For more information on alimony and divorce issues please contact the law firm of Schwam-Wilcox & Associates.