Alimony, also called spousal support, is one of the hottest topics in family law.
Almost every client, during their first meeting with their lawyer, asks either if they will receive alimony or if they will have to pay alimony, and how much. The answer to these questions is one of the most difficult, as there are no rigid guidelines that calculate how much alimony should be. However, there are some general principles that Courts are required to follow, and that your lawyer can discuss with you.
There are also many misunderstandings about alimony, and many myths about what alimony is, and what it isn’t. Here are the top 3 myths that lawyers hear from their clients when it comes to alimony.
Myth #1: Alimony is Meant to Equalize Income / Alimony Will Be Half of the Payor’s Income
Alimony is not meant to place everyone on equal footing, and is not meant to equalize incomes. It is, however, based on the needs of the party receiving it, and the ability of the other party to pay. It is also meant to allow the party receiving it to enjoy the same standard of living that they had while their marriage was intact.
Sometimes there is sufficient income for both parties to maintain their lifestyle post-divorce, however, sometimes both parties are forced to alter their lifestyles, as there is not enough money to allow for this. In other words, alimony is intended to make sure that the person receiving it has enough money to continue their life, however, it is not intended to provide each person with the same amount of money, or to allow the person receiving it to have such an excess every month that they are able to save or invest in excess of any investing that was done during the marriage.
Myth #2: The Lower-Earning Spouse Will Always Receive Alimony, Regardless of Their Income
As discussed above, alimony is not meant to equalize incomes, and it is not meant to provide someone with excess funds for savings purposes. It is simply meant to ensure that the person receiving it is able to continue their lifestyle.
This also means that if the lesser-earning spouse still earns significant income, and is able to support themselves on their income alone, it is unlikely that they will receive alimony regardless of how much their spouse earns.
Myth #3: If I Quit My Job or Reduce My Income, I Can Get Out Of Paying Alimony
Paying alimony is not something that most people look forward to. Some people will even go so far as to attempt to reduce their income to avoid having to pay, but this never works, and almost always backfires.
A voluntary reduction in earnings, or a voluntary termination of your job will not allow you to claim that you do not have the ability to pay alimony, as it is likely that your spouse will be able to use your prior income as the income level when calculating your ability to pay alimony. If this issue is brought before a judge, it is not a favorable position. Negotiating into a more favorable position regarding alimony is possible, and is a better option than attempting to reduce your income.
If you have questions about Florida divorce or how alimony may work in your case, Robert Sparks is here to help. Call or contact us online to speak with an attorney.