New Alimony And Spousal Support Processes
Many states, including California, are currently trying to restrict alimony and spousal support to cases where one spouse has a severely lower income. Alimony and spousal support may set them up for more long-term financial stability . This is because states recognize that it can be hard to form two households out of one, and that both partners will be struggling financially.
Contact Our Experienced Boston Alimony And Spousal Support Attorney
Our firm is significantly experienced in spousal support and contempt actions. Because litigating spousal support is extremely complex, it is advisable for any litigant going through a case where spousal support is an issue to contact a qualified attorney for advice. Our Boston family lawyers litigated hundreds of spousal support cases and we have settled hundreds more.
We are highly experienced and we can assist you with the proper advice to navigate through your case. The Boston family law attorney team at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, LLP offers a free, confidential meeting. Call or email us today. We have offices in New Bedford 316-9720 and Boston 795-3611, plus a new addition in Hingham 908-0551.
Temporary Support While The Divorce Is Pending
You and your spouse don’t need to wait until everything in your divorce is settled to work out spousal support arrangements. In fact, the support issue may be most important immediately after you separate, to support the lower-earning spouse while your divorce is in process.
It’s always a good idea to make a written agreement about temporary support. If you can’t agree on a temporary support amount, then you’ll probably spend some time in court arguing over it. If you have a right to support, it starts as soon as you separate, so get yourself to court right away.
Recommended Reading: Divorce In The United States
Differences Between Alimony And Child Support
Getting divorced often means disentangling numerous financial issues, such as the ownership of the marital home and the responsibility for paying off debts incurred during the marriage. One of the biggest questions may center on whether one spouse will be entitled to alimony and/or child support. If you’re receiving supportor potentially paying itit’s important to understand the differences between alimony and child support and why those differences matter.
Consult With An Experienced South Carolina Family Law Attorney Today
Suppose you are facing a legal concern that involves spousal support. In that case, the practiced family law attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, in Greenville, recognize how important the matter is to your financial future and are well prepared and well-positioned to help. To learn more about what we can do for you, please dont wait to contact or call us at 864-523-6928 today.
Understanding Spousal Support And Alimony In Pa
While most people have heard of alimony, issues involving spousal support and/or alimony pendente lite are often overlooked in the area of family law, and alimony is often incorrectly understood. All three concepts alimony, spousal support, and alimony pendente lite are similar in that they involve the higher income earning spouse making payments to the other spouse, but they have subtle, unique differences depending on the circumstances.
Both spousal support and APL are calculated based on the parties respective incomes according to the Pennsylvania State Support Guidelines. If the party receiving support also files for child support, the guidelines are built to accommodate paying both child and spousal support and the two can be calculated at the same time. If the higher earning spouse is entitled to child support an offset can be ordered in connection with spousal support.
Alimony pendente lite is a Latin term that means alimony pending the litigation. APL is similar to spousal support in terms of the higher income spouse paying the other spouse but is paid after a divorce is filed and terminates when a divorce decree is entered. Typically, the court uses the same support guidelines to calculate spousal support and APL.
The complicated and varied nature of support is why many people going through a divorce or separation choose to seek the expertise of an attorney to make sure they are fully aware of their rights and obligations.
How Does The New Tax Law Affect Alimony
Prior to the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act , payments that met the tax law alimony definition could be deducted from federal income tax. The dependent spouse had to report the alimony as taxable income and pay taxes on it. However, beginning in 2019, dependent spouses will not have to pay taxes on spousal support payments.
Similarly, before the TJCA, supporting spouses could get a tax deduction for the alimony they pay. There is a list of specific requirements that must be met, for example, the alimony must be made under an official document like a divorce decree and it must go to the spouse or on their behalf. Once these requirements are met, the alimony payment could be deducted without itemization.
However, beginning in 2019, supporting spouses will not be able to deduct support payments. This is important to be aware of, especially for high-income individuals, since the tax savings from deducting support payments can be significant.
For the purposes of your taxes, be aware of the timing of your divorce agreement or any modifications to it. Agreements signed, sealed and delivered by December 31, 2018 will abide under former tax laws, whereas any agreements reached January 1, 2019 and later are subject to the new tax law .
How To Avoid Alimony
Many people considering divorce wonder how to avoid alimony or what is the best state for avoiding alimony.
There is no easy answer to this question, and the truth is that it is often difficult to avoid paying alimony. The following might reduce alimony payments or the duration of payment, and in some instances, may help you to avoid paying alimony:
How Conduct Of The Parties Effects Alimony Awards
Many family law litigants beginning their divorce case often wonder the answers to the question of how does conduct during marriage effect the Probate and Family Courts rulings in cases involving significant assets and alimony? Many people often wonder if the issues are interrelated. The short answer is that conduct during marriage can certainly effect how a family court judge ultimately decides to divide assets and award alimony. And the issues are interrelated, but in unforeseen ways.
Although there are several Massachusetts General Law statutes that apply to the analysis to respond to this question, the two most important sections are Chapter 208, Sections 34 and 53. Interestingly, conduct during marriage as a consideration factor only appears in the text of Section 34. The conduct of the parties during marriage or any variation of that phrase does not appear in Section 53, which is the alimony statute.
As a result of Section 34, in high asset divorce cases in Boston, Massachusetts , the court has the ability to fashion its property and alimony orders after considering what assets are going to be assigned to each party. The recent shift in the law has been for the court to assign property to a supported party and reduce or eliminate the alimony award. For example, if a supported wife would otherwise receive $5,000,000 worth of property in an equal division, the court may award $6,000,000 and reduce or eliminate alimony.
How Is Spousal Support Determined
As noted above, there are many factors that determine which spouse, if any, has to pay spousal support and how much they have to pay.
Some of those factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Working arrangements during the marriage
- Whether or not one spouse sacrificed earning potential, income, educational opportunities, or helped the other spouse attain any of the above
- The health of both parties
- Whether or not there was abuse or a history of domestic violence
There are many more factors that can be considered and weighed as each family situation is unique. It is up to the judge, in conjunction with both parties and their lawyers, to determine a spousal support system that is fair for all involved.
When Does The Need For Financial Support Arise
If you and your partner are separating, have no children, and have broadly similar salaries, assets, and debts, there may be no alimony payable either way. And even where children are involved, no fixed form of child support may be necessary – you could share childcare 50/50, with a week on/week off agreement, for example.
However, in reality, most cases are a lot more complex and involved. Thatâs true when one partner is the primary earner, and the other has put their prospects on hold to raise children or support their spouseâs ambitions.
At the heart of alimony and child support is the principle that all parties should be able to live in the manner to which theyâre accustomed. The law doesnât want to see one partner live in a mansion and another in a tiny, cramped apartment – and neither does it want to see a child or children living between those two extremes.
Spousal Support Best Practices
If youre not married yet, you can add clauses into your prenuptial agreement that define how long and how much. Its important to note, however, that the conscionability of any spousal support provisions in any marital agreement is measured at the time of enforcement. So, it is vital to work with an experienced family law attorney before you decide to include any spousal support provisions in your agreement.
If youre currently married, you can add alimony-related provisions to a postnuptial agreement to cover the topics mentioned above with the help of an experienced family law attorney.
Whether its a prenup or postnup, both tools allow you to take matters into your own hands ahead of time. Otherwise, youll rely on the judge to make decisions for you.
Plus, the discussions around prenups and postnups allow you and your spouse to talk through tough topics and practice open and honest communication around money. Having these discussions can empower you to continue on a successful marriage or, at the very least, create a roadmap to thrive in life after divorce.
Feel free to reach out if you need legal guidance on your prenup or postnup or assistance with spousal support enforcement Im here to help.
Undefined Duration Or Permanent Spousal Support:
If your marriage has exceeded 20 years, or come close to it, particularly if one spouse has been out of the workforce for a significant period of time to raise children or otherwise support the breadwinning spouse, it is more likely that a judge will order spousal support without a defined durationwhich simply means If and when circumstances materially change in the future, either party may ask for the amount of support to be decreased, increased, or terminated. While a paying spouse may not quit their job or voluntarily reduce their income by taking a dream job with a 50% salary cut, there is a statutory presumption that retiring at the age of 67 constitutes a material change in circumstances which may justify a modification or termination of spousal support, depending on the circumstances.
No matter what type of spousal support is awarded or agreed to by the parties, support obligations automatically terminate if either party dies, or if the recipient remarries. If the recipient begins cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to marriage for a year or more, the paying spouse may ask the court to terminate the support obligation, but it is not automatic.
Reaching A Settlement Agreement On Spousal Support
Divorcing couples are always free to negotiate a spousal support amongst themselves which can be memorialized in a settlement agreement that the judge will then approve. Reaching a settlement agreement is preferable to litigating, as it saves money on legal fees, reduces delay and friction, and allows the divorcing spouses to reach an agreement that works for them. Talk to a family law attorney about creating a settlement agreement in your divorce. For any questions on family law in California, contact the Law Office of Kelley C. Finan today to schedule a consultation to discuss your circumstances.
Are Alimony And Spousal Support Different
The answer to this question is no. Both terms are synonymous, referring to the same thing. Alimony is simply a more dated legal term. It was used primarily in the late 20th century when divorce rates were rising in the US. Historically, in cases of divorce, both the law and social convention dictated that men provide financial support to the women. In current times, women have had more career success than before and can often be the primary wage earners in a household.
To reflect this, spousal support, which is considered a more gender-neutral term, has become the new norm. However, spousal support is defined differently depending on the local laws. In Louisiana, the judge can award interim spousal support as well as final spousal support. In a divorce proceeding, the judge can award interim periodic support to a party or may award final periodic support to a party who is in need of financial support and who is free from fault prior to the filing of a proceeding to terminate the marriage.
The judge may award spousal support to a spouse who has not been at fault prior to the filing of a petition for divorce and who is in need of spousal support, based on the needs of that party and the ability of the other party to pay. Factors that may be considered by the judge include:
The income and means of the parties, including the liquidity of such means.
The financial obligations of the parties, including any interim allowance or final child support obligation.
How A California Judge Will Award Spousal Support
In California, a person may seek not only spousal support following the divorce, but also temporary spousal support to be paid during the time the divorce is being litigated, which can go on for months. Temporary spousal support awards are usually reached by taking the spouses respective incomes and putting them into a formula meant to provide the receiving spouse with a similar style of life as enjoyed during the marriage.In a final spousal support award, a judge has much wider discretion in setting the amount and duration, but will generally look at the following factors:
- The incomes of both spouses, as well as the income potential of both spouses
- The reasonable expenses each spouse has
- The living standard enjoyed during the marriage
- Other property, assets, and debts held by each spouse
Because spousal support awards often go on for years, the numbers can get quite large when looked at cumulatively, and thus it is advisable to work with a family law attorney to make compelling arguments on the above issues to a family law judge.
How Does Spousal Support Differ From Child Support
After a divorce, it is common for one spouse to make payments to the other as part of the terms of the divorce. These payments can be spousal support, child support, or both. While a spouse may receive both, it is important to understand that spousal support and child support are very different. Before discussing both concepts, we must first define them.
Spousal Support Calculated Without Child Support
If you have no children, getting a rough amount from the formula is reasonably straightforward and can be done with a normal calculator.
Shorter relationships result in smaller payments but in long marriages, the calculation may almost equalize the incomes of both spouses:
- Note your spouses gross income
- Note your gross income
- Work out the length of the marriage
The spousal support amount ranges from 1.5 to 2 percent of the difference between the spouses gross incomes for each year of the relationship up to a maximum of 50 percent.
For marriages of 25 years or longer, the range is from 37.5 to 50 percent of the income difference, practically equalizing the incomes.
Lets assume that you earn $60,000 and your spouse earns $100,000 .
In simple terms, the spousal support calculation will try to adjust your net incomes to be $80,000 each. Generally speaking, however, it is not quite so straightforward as this.
Enforcing An Alimony Award
If your ex isn’t paying court-ordered spousal support, you may go back to court to ask the judge to enforce the alimony orders. The same is true when you and your ex had an agreement on the issue that was made part of the final divorce judgment or another court order. Typically, you’ll file a “show cause” action , and the court will set a hearing to determine why your ex isn’t following the order and what the judge should do to enforce it.
Family law courts have various tools at their disposal to enforce alimony payments, and a deadbeat spouse could face fines and penalties for failing to follow an alimony order. A judge may also order a spouse to pay alimony retroactively to make up for any missed payments.
What Is Child Support
Child support is nearly always structured as a monthly or bi-weekly payment that is meant to cover the basic needs and expenses of a minor child. Both parents are expected to contribute to the financial support of their minor children but if one parent has the children in his or her custody a majority of the time, and/or if one parent earns significantly more than the other, then it is likely that one parent will need to make an adjusting payment to the other to equalize the differences.
Child support is intended to cover the basic necessities for raising a child, including the following:
- Extra-curricular activity expenses including sports and summer camps
- Toys and books
However, when parents have shared physical custody arrangements, they often agree to share expenses for things like extra-curricular activities, tutors, clothes, and school supplies. Also, parents have a statutory obligation to share any unreimbursed medical expenses for minor children in proportion to their incomes.
Child support is always modifiable in the event of a future material change in circumstances, and it can be automatically deducted from the paying spouses payroll deposits in most circumstances.