Although divorce is oftentimes an emotional process, it’s also a major financial transaction. This can be especially true when alimony comes into play. Those who are ordered to pay alimony can wind up doing so for years or even decades, which can eat into their financial resources. Those who receive alimony oftentimes rely on it as a financial lifeline during their time of need as they try to get established on their own. In other words, the stakes are high for all parties involved, which is why regardless of which side of the dispute you find yourself on, you need to know the law and how to use it to your advantage.
Proving the necessity of alimony
Alimony isn’t just awarded based on how a judge feels. Instead, the party seeking alimony has to prove one of a number of facts in order to demonstrate that an award of alimony is warranted under the law. Here are some of the facts that can be shown to support a finding that alimony is appropriate:
- The requesting spouse is unable to become self-supporting through employment
- The requesting spouse is the custodial parent and their situation as the custodial parent makes it challenging for that spouse to secure work
- The requesting spouse lacks assets to meet reasonable needs post-divorce
- The requesting spouse had a financial dependence on the other spouse
A lot of the evidence presented to address these characteristics will be financial in nature, but there’ll also likely be evidence of a requesting spouse’s education and work experience, as well as portrayals of how the divorce has affected his or her ability to look for and secure work.
Seeking an alimony modification
In most instances, either party can seek a modification to an existing alimony order. The receiving spouse’s remarriage should cut off all alimony, but a lot of times cohabitation becomes a focus of litigation. Here, the paying spouse argues that the receiving spouse is being supported by a boyfriend or girlfriend and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to recoup alimony payments. Proving cohabitation can be challenging, though, especially when a receiving spouse attempts to hide it.
Alimony can be modified in the other direction, too. If a paying spouse’s income increases significantly, then the receiving spouse may request that the amount of alimony be increased. A modification might also be sought if the needs of the receiving spouse change. There’ll need to be a demonstrated ongoing need, and the paying spouse’s income level will need to be proven. Here, a paying spouse may try to claim that additional unexpected expenses in his or her life prevent him or her from paying the requested increase in alimony. This might include the onset of a medical condition that requires extensive treatment.
Navigating your family law challenges
A lot of people think that divorce is a simple process or that it can be taken care of all at once. The truth of the matter, though, is that a lot of divorce legal issues are complicated and can linger for a significant period of time. Alimony is amongst those issues.
But regardless of which side of an alimony dispute you find yourself on, the stakes are high. That’s why it’s imperative that you understand the law and how it applies to your set of facts, as well as how to build strong arguments in light of the law and the facts. If you want to learn more about your legal options and how to best position yourself for success in your alimony dispute, then now may be the time to reach out to a legal professional you trust.