Spousal Support/Alimony – What You Need to Know
Temporary Spousal Support: Your first spousal support orders are viewed as “temporary.” In many courts the same computer program that calculates child support, is used to calculate temporary spousal support. (So, at your initial consultation, your attorney can approximate what initial spousal support may be.)
The computer program mostly focuses on incomes and a few particular expenses. At this stage there is no in-depth inquiry into personal expenses, what a person can earn, or how long spousal support may be needed. You need very little to change a temporary spousal support order.
Permanent Spousal Support: Permanent spousal support does not mean what it says. It is so permanent it cannot be changed. Instead, permanent only means you need to show more to change it. For example, you lost a job. Or, you are retiring. Or, the other person is earning, or earning more than they did. Or maybe the other side has now living with someone, or planning on re-marrying.
We don’t use the computer program to set permanent spousal support. We negotiate the number, or, a Judge sets the number after a trial. The court looks at a range of factors particular to your marriage, before deciding what, if any, spousal support should be.
Half the Length of Marriage: There is no mandatory rule that a person only needs to pay spousal support for a particular period of time. Or, that you will only receive spousal support for a particular period of time. A marriage is like a fingerprint – no two are alike.
Spousal Support/Alimony – The Next Steps
Consult with an Attorney: First, you should not make any legal moves until you receive solid legal advice. Attorneys can lose you spousal support. And, they can leave you paying exorbitant amounts. A temporary spousal support order can be particularly destructive as it could go on for a long period of time, and, be much more than what a permanent spousal support order would be. Like everything else in family law, the first steps you make could set the tone for everything that comes after.
What You Need: Spousal support has everything to do with income and wealth. It would be wise to find an attorney who knows how to read a tax return. An attorney who knows how to deal with stock options. An attorney who can locate additional sources of income.
It would also be prudent to locate an attorney who is comfortable in court. Many spousal support issues are contested, and you do not want an attorney who is afraid of being in court.
Documents: No attorney can provide you a complete consultation on spousal support without knowing whatever everyone earns or is receiving in income and benefits. Before you meet with an attorney, locate business and personal tax returns, all the most recent statements for investment accounts and retirements. If there are businesses, also look for balance sheets, and bank account statements. The more you have for your attorney, the more thorough the consultation. Of course, all that information will be needed regardless, if you go through a divorce.