Learn how alimony is calculated and how to protect your rights during divorce

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Spousal support, also known as alimony, can be ordered by a judge during a divorce. There are many factors at play that could make a judge choose to order spousal support. The goal for the judge during a divorce is to ensure that both parties are able to continue living as they had. This means they continue living at the same level of comfort as they were before. If one party is unable to do so, that’s where alimony can come into play.

There are two situations where spousal support is unlikely to be considered:

  • If a marriage was short (often considered short if 2 to 3 years or less), it’s unlikely that spousal support will be considered.
  • In cases where both spouses are employed and self-sufficient, spousal support is unlikely.

Additionally, spousal support can be enforced for different time periods. These time periods might be fixed, unlimited or until the remarriage or death of your ex-spouse. Another major factor in spousal support is child support. When children are involved, child support takes precedent over spousal support.

How alimony is calculated

When a judge orders that alimony or spousal support must be paid, there are many factors that will play a role in deciding just how much you or your spouse might have to contribute.

  • How much you need: Consider a situation where one spouse does not work or only works part-time. A judge might order that the other spouse pay spousal support until that individual can find full-time employment. This might be for six months to a year or as long as four years if the spouse was working toward a college degree. The circumstances will dictate how much each spouse needs to continue living at the same level.
  • How much income you already have: If you making minimum wage, it’s unlikely that you’ll be required to pay spousal support. Yet, if you’re making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, you might be required to pay alimony. You and your spouse’s incomes will be evaluated during the divorce proceedings.
  • Potential future earnings: Many factors can dictate your future earnings. For example, if you’re close to retirement, you might not have a great deal of time to continue earning.
  • How many children you have: As stated above, child support takes precedent over spousal support. If you have many children that you are working to support, the amount of spousal support is likely to be much smaller.
  • The assets that belong to the party making the payment as well as the way in which you lived during the marriage: If you lived simply during marriage, the courts will assume that you will continue to live that way once divorced.

Protecting your income during divorce

If you’re going through a divorce and working hard to protect your income, you should hire an attorney. A family law attorney can present a proper case during divorce proceedings to protect your income.

The same is true for spouses who earned less during the marriage. An attorney can help you gain alimony to ensure that your way of life is not affected during divorce. Underemployed spouses can make a case that they need spousal support to live.

Additionally, if you believe you or your ex-spouse’s living situation has changed, you might be able to stop paying alimony. A family law attorney can be a huge asset to your case. There are circumstances in which you can stop paying alimony even outside of the original terms of your divorce.

While it is possible to get a divorce without hiring an attorney, you might not get the most favorable terms. Instead, bring in an expert who knows how to negotiate and can plead your case professionally.

The need for an attorney increases in situations where one of the spouses has less ability to earn a livable wage. Marriages, where one of the spouses stays at home with children, is one of the most common reasons we see this imbalance in income. Regardless of whether you are the wage earner in that situation or the stay-at-home parent, it is in your best interest to hire a family law attorney.

In cases where neither you nor your spouse is seeking spousal support, but you still have assets to divide, an attorney is still valuable. Asset division can become personal and heated. An attorney is a neutral party that can help ensure that both parties walk away happy. Contact Gore and Kuperman to learn more about our Family Law legal services.