What is alimony?
Alimony is a payment from one spouse for the benefit of the other spouse (or ex-spouse).
Who has to pay alimony?
Alimony is paid when there is a substantial difference between the incomes of divorced or divorcing spouses. Generally speaking, the Court must find that one spouse has a need for support and the other party has an ability to pay. The gender of the parties is not a factor when the Court makes an alimony award, so both Husbands and Wives can be ordered to pay alimony.
I think my spouse is working “under the table.” What should I do?
Unreported income, and particularly cash income, can be very difficult to identify and locate. A qualified attorney can help to locate some of these funds, which can have a significant impact on the amount of alimony to be paid or received.
My ex-spouse won’t get a job. What should I do?
A court can order a spouse receiving alimony to seek work. If the Court doesn’t feel that he or she is trying hard enough to seek work, it can be used as a factor to modify the duration or amount of alimony.
How long will I have to pay alimony?
The maximum duration of alimony is now set by law and varies substantially based upon the length of the marriage. For example, for a marriage under five years, alimony is limited to one-half the length of the marriage. For a marriage of over 20 years, alimony may be for an indefinite time.
How do I ask the Court for alimony?
There are two types of cases in which you can request support:
- Complaint for Divorce – for married couples
- Complaint for Separate Support – for married couples that wish to live apart, but are not yet ready to file for divorce.
How do I change the amount of alimony I pay or receive?
Provided that alimony remains as an open issue in your divorce agreement or judgment and there has been a substantial change in circumstance, you can file a Complaint for Modification.
What if I can’t afford to pay the alimony I was ordered to pay?
If you can’t afford the alimony because you have experienced a change or loss of income, a Complaint for Modification is necessary. Otherwise, Courts will typically vigorously enforce alimony orders.
What type of income is included in the alimony calculation?
Generally speaking, every type of income, including wages, commissions, tips, bonuses, rental income, lottery winnings, insurance payouts, gambling income, dividends, capital gains, etc. are included in alimony calculations.
Does my ex have to provide his/her income information to me?
Unless there is a court order that requires it, a spouse is not required to provide income information until a case is filed. Once a case is filed and served, all or nearly all the spouse’s income information can be requested and must be produced.
Are child support and alimony related?
While child support and alimony serve different purposes and are calculated using different factors, there is substantial overlap between the two. For example, a Court will not order child support and alimony to be paid on the same income. However, a Court can allocate a portion of the income for child support and the remainder for alimony.
When does alimony end?
Generally, alimony ends when one of the following factors is met:
- the time limit of the alimony has been met, based on the length of the marriage;
- the person receiving alimony gets remarried or lives with another person (cohabitation);
- the person paying alimony retires at the normal retirement age (generally 67);
- a change in circumstance occurs where the person paying alimony no longer can afford it or the person receiving it no long needs it.
Can I handle the alimony aspects of my case on my own?
Absolutely. Many people go through a variety of divorce cases, including alimony cases, without the advice of an attorney. However, keep in mind that if you do not present your case correctly, your alimony may be too high or too low. The Judge will enter a Judgment of the Court that cannot be changed until a substantial change in circumstance occurs.
What if I can’t afford the several thousand dollar retainer many attorneys ask for?
That’s where I can help. I offer a wide range of advice and representation on alimony cases. These can include helping by just reviewing some paperwork, advising on your rights before a mediation, or a “second opinion” before a major decision needs to be made. If you feel uncomfortable going to court, I can represent you for a single hearing. I offer these services on an affordable, flat fee basis.
Many clients prefer to have an attorney throughout the entire case, but simply cannot afford to make a large upfront retainer payment. In these situations, I am happy to break the case down into several individual events and charge only for that service. This allows my clients to spread the cost of the alimony case out over the length of the case. It also means that you don’t have to be afraid to pick up the phone or send me an e-mail, because you won’t be getting a bill for that service.