Factors that Affect Alimony or Spousal Support Payments

Factors that Affect Alimony

Although the divorce process is usually a lengthy and painful experience, the two people going through the divorce and their attorneys should discuss all angles involving alimony. What happens if a spouse dies? What if the spouse receiving the alimony gets remarried? It is wise to spell out as many special circumstances as possible in the divorce settlement.

The first thing to look at is the ability of each spouse to support him/herself. For example, a person who is disabled or injured is less able to support himself than a healthy person. Also, a well-educated, successful individual will be in a much better position to earn a good living than someone with little to no marketable abilities.

Time to Mediate

When the time comes to decide the final agreement for alimony, both the spouses and their divorce attorneys can place conditions on alimony concerning when it can be decreased or ended. For example, most people agree that when the spouse receiving the alimony chooses to cohabitate or remarry someone else, then the alimony payments can end. Some states grant their courts the power to end alimony payments when this occurs, but not all. On the other hand, other states allow the spouse receiving payments to demonstrate that even though they are remarried, their economic situation has not sufficiently improved and alimony should continue.

Alimony, following a divorce may be discontinued or re-evaluated for any of the following reasons:

* A large upgrade in lifestyle (greater income or reduced expenses) that was not present at the time of the divorce
* Graduating from a university and getting a higher paying job
* Children reaching adulthood
* Either spouse passing away
* Couples decide to stop alimony payments on a specific date and list this in their the divorce settlement.
* One of the spouses paying alimony retires

Be Thorough

It is of utmost importance to discuss all possibilities and include the agreed upon conclusions in the alimony agreement. Most of the time, once the final agreement is signed by both parties, courts are unwilling to change it, except in a small minority of cases.

In a 1993 Massachusetts court case, O’Brien vs. O’Brien, another special circumstance garnered attention. In this case, a judge allowed former alimony payments that had been ended due to the wife’s remarriage be reinstated when the former wife’s new marriage ended.

One may believe they may have paid their last alimony payment, only to be blind-sided years later by a reinstatement of those payments. What a shock! It benefits both parties to spell out all of the details that involve alimony and come to an adequate settlement so both spouses can move on with their lives with a certain confidence in the agreement that is reached.

If you need advice or have questions concerning divorce or alimony, please contact a family law attorney.