How Is Alimony Determined in a Divorce?
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In many cases, when married couples divorce, one of the spouses will receive alimony from the other spouse. Alimony is financial support that a court orders a husband or wife to provide to their spouse as part of a divorce. While alimony is like child support in some ways, it is much less predictable, because the laws in each state are not as straightforward about whether a spouse is eligible to receive alimony and how much alimony a spouse has to pay.
Can You Receive Alimony If You Work?
One of the most common questions people have regarding their eligibility for alimony is whether they can receive alimony if they work. First, if you expect to receive alimony, you can have a job. However, your job status does matter when alimony is concerned, including:
- Whether you are unemployed, work part-time, or have a fulltime job
- How much income you earn
- What kind of earning potential you have
If you are unemployed or have a part-time job that does not pay very well, you may be required to get or at least actively search for a fulltime job to qualify for alimony. In some cases, experts will be hired to analyze and report your job prospects to the court. You will undergo vocational testing and the expert will then have potential employers examine your results to estimate your earning power in the current marketplace.
How Is Alimony Determined?
Once a person is proven to be qualified for alimony, here are a few factors that the court uses to determine whether you can receive spousal support and how much you are eligible for, including:
- How much earning capacity each spouse has
- What each spouse’s debt situation is
- How many assets and how much property each spouse owns
- If the spouses shared a business or not
- How the spouses contributed to the relationship career-wise (this includes whether one was a homemaker and each spouse’s level of education)
- Whether the couple has a prenuptial agreement that has a plan regarding alimony already in place
- Each spouse’s mental and physical health
What If I Have to Pay Alimony?
For those on the other side of the alimony equation, having to pay alimony is no less of mystery. If you suspect that you will have to pay your spouse alimony as part of your divorce, you will want to have a clear idea of what is expected of you, such as a payment schedule and how much is due for each payment. In addition, you will want to keep records of how you pay and when. For instance, if you pay using checks, keep a copy of each check, the address you sent the check to, and the date you mailed the check. If you pay your alimony using cash, make sure to get receipts for each payment signed by your ex-spouse.
What If I Receive Alimony?
If you are receiving alimony, you will need to know what to expect from the process as well. This includes how much each payment should be, when you should receive payments, and how alimony is to be paid. You should keep records of each transaction, including how much the payment was for, the date you received the payment, a copy of the check or money order used to make the payment, and a copy of any receipt you give your spouse for a cash payment.
Do I Need a Lawyer If My Spouse Is Unwilling to Pay Alimony?
Whether you expect you will have to pay alimony or expect to receive alimony as a part of a divorce, you need to talk with a family law attorney as early in the divorce process as possible. You need to know your options as soon as possible, because there may be deadlines you must meet to regarding alimony, child support, and other divorce-related issues. In addition, an experienced divorce lawyer can examine your situation, explain your options, answer your questions, and successfully guide you through the divorce process.