Representing Your Point Of View In Spousal Support Hearings
Spousal support, formerly called alimony, is a system in which one former spouse pays money to the other. In the past, it was most often the husband that ended up paying spousal support to the wife, because husbands were historically the primary income earner in the family.
Over time, society has changed, and it has become the norm that both the husband and the wife have full-time jobs and earn significant incomes. Since the obligation to pay spousal support generally falls on the party with the higher income, it is now not uncommon for the wife to be ordered to pay spousal support to the husband.
The court will be interested in how long the two of you were married and the relative age and health of both parties.
Courts are also free to order payments following legal separation, not just divorce.
How Does Spousal Support Work?
Each case is different, and many things are considered when determining alimony. It can be court-ordered or agreed to by the spouses. Income, property, earning capacity and the duration of the marriage are all the factors that the court will consider. Whether or not you have kids is also important.
How Does The Court Determine Alimony?
Spousal support (also known as alimony) is up to the discretion of the court. In determining whether one side should pay the other spousal support, the court must consider 14 statutory factors such as the length of marriage, disparity of income, total assets, the age of each party and the earning ability of each party. Based upon the assessment of the statutory factors, the court will determine whether spousal support is appropriate and, if so, how much and for how long.
Courts typically order spousal support when the parties have been married for at least five years, when there is a large disparity in incomes and when factors exist that are likely to make it difficult for a party to be financially self-sufficient. However, courts may order alimony in short-term marriages such as in the case of a stay-at-home mom with young children.
Tax advantages of alimony: Because spousal support is no longer tax deductible by the paying party or taxable income for the receiving party, it is important to give careful consideration to the amount of taxes the paying party will have to pay when determining the appropriate amount of support. For spousal support orders issued prior to January 1, 2019, even if modified after that date, the support is tax deductible by the paying party and taxable income for the receiving party. So in cases where a pre-January 1, 2019, support order is being modified, it is still important to keep the tax effects in mind when determining the new amount of support. In many cases, the party paying support saves more on taxes than the receiving party has to pay on the amount received, which results in a financial benefit to both parties. At Sowald Sowald Anderson Hawley & Johnson, our attorneys use specialized software and financial experts to determine the most beneficial way to structure spousal support.
Can Alimony Payments Be Modified In The Future?
In some cases, the answer is yes, but not in all. Whether the court can modify a spousal support order depends on whether the terms of the original order give the court the authority to modify the spousal support obligation. If the original order does say that the court may modify the support obligation in the future, then the court may consider the current circumstances and determine if a modification is warranted. If the terms do not say that the court may modify the obligation, then the court has no authority to make a change. If the court does have the authority to modify the original spousal support obligation, it will consider whether there has been a change of circumstances, such as a significant change in a party’s income and the cause of that change to determine if a modification is appropriate.
There Was A New Federal Tax Bill That Was Passed. How Does This Affect Divorce And Spousal Support?
Under the new tax law, spousal support is no longer deductible from the payor’s income for tax purposes and it is no longer considered taxable income to the recipient. The new law only applies to spousal support orders that were issued after January 1, 2019. If you have a spousal support order that was issued prior to that date, the support remains deductible from the payor’s income and is still considered taxable income for the recipient.
We Are Both Working Full Time. Can I Still Expect Spousal Support?
Even if both parties have full-time jobs, the court will still often order spousal support if there is a significant disparity between the parties’ incomes.
Reach Out For Knowledgeable Spousal Support Guidance
You can see that every question must be answered in a way that supports your interests. Without professional representation, you might not know what a good answer or a bad answer sounds like. A great deal is at stake in spousal support deliberations — you owe it to your future to enter into them with discipline and an effective strategy.