Alimony Lawyers

What is Alimony?

Alimony is the Payment made to a separated or divorced spouse as required by a Divorce Decree or Separation Agreement.

Where a divorce or dissolution of marriage (civil union) is granted either party may ask for Post-Marital Alimony. It is not an absolute right but may be granted the amount and terms varying with the circumstances. If one party is already receiving support at the time of the divorce the previous order is not automatically continued (although this can be requested) as the arguments for support during and after the marriage can be different.

Factors Affecting Alimony

Length of the Marriage

Generally alimony lasts for a term or period that will be longer if the marriage lasted longer. A marriage of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.

Time Separated while still married

In some U.S. states separation is a triggering event recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. Other U.S. states (such as New Jersey) do not recognize separation or legal separation. In a state not recognizing separation a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated like a 10-year marriage.

Age of the parties at the time of the Divorce

Generally more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to ‘get on’ with their lives and therefore thought to require shorter periods of support.

Relative Income of the parties

In U.S. states that recognize a ‘right’ of the spouses to live ‘according to the means they have become accustomed’ alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate as best possible their prior lifestyle. This tends to strongly equalize post-divorce income heavily penalizing the higher-earning spouse.

“These are your peak earning years, my friend. You’ve got kids to think about. And soon enough, alimony.” ― Garth Risk Hallberg

In U.S. states where fault is recognized fault can significantly affect alimony increasing reducing or even nullifying it. Many U.S. states are ‘no-fault’ states where one does not have to show fault to get divorced. No-fault divorce spares the spouses the acrimony of the ‘fault’ processes and closes the eyes of the court to any and all improper spousal behavior.

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Advantages for Alimony:

When most people hear the word alimony, they cringe – especially if it is the person being asked to pay it. However, there are reasons why you might want to pay alimony.

 

To start, alimony is viewed differently on your tax return than, say, child support. It is a tax-deductible expense for the paying party, and a taxed expense for the party receiving it. This is most advantageous in situation of grossly different incomes, when one party will actually benefit from the tax advantages. Judges are not always willing or eager to grant alimony in divorce cases.

This worked out well for one divorcing couple that realized a tax benefit with the husband’s salary would more than make up for the wife’s lower salary. He could even afford to pay her tax as well and still come out on top financially.

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