Couples considering divorce often have conversations about alimony, and if they do not, they should. Although alimony or spousal support often raises uncomfortable or negative feelings, the payments compensate a spouse with fewer resources for the change in their lifestyle after divorce.
Whether you are the economically disadvantaged spouse or the one who is likely to pay alimony, working with an experienced Red Bank spousal support lawyer is vital. A seasoned family attorney could explain the factors that courts consider when awarding alimony, and if your divorce goes to trial, ensure the judge understands your situation and point of view.
Tennessee Code §36-5-121 describes the reasons for spousal support and how a court might calculate it. Unlike child support, there is no formula for calculating alimony. The main considerations when determining spousal support are need and ability to pay.
As a policy matter, courts recognize that in most marriages—especially marriages that produce children—one spouse might sacrifice career or educational opportunities in favor of managing a household and raising children. Alimony is a form of compensation for that unpaid contribution to the marriage. In addition, alimony could ensure that a spouse enjoys a post-divorce lifestyle reasonably comparable to the lifestyle they would have had if they remained married.
Alimony is often necessary to help a spouse rebuild their life after a marriage ends, but a court cannot award it if the spouse does not ask for it during the divorce. In addition, a court will not consider a request for spousal support after a divorce is final. Working with a knowledgeable Red Bank attorney could ensure that spouses settle the question of spousal support during the divorce proceedings.
It benefits all parties if the spouses can agree on alimony when they negotiate property division. A couple could work through their attorneys or with a mediator to reach a negotiated alimony settlement. Doing so allows the spouses to keep control of the process. Knowing the factors a judge would consider if the case went to trial could help guide a spouse’s support negotiations.
The length of the marriage is an important factor. A spouse leaving a marriage of 20 years or longer is likely to receive significantly more alimony than someone who was married for less than ten years. Courts will also consider each spouse’s educational and professional attainments, their ability to earn a living, and their personal financial resources. If the couple has young children who will live primarily with one spouse, courts might consider it advisable to award more alimony to allow the parent to stay home with the children until they are older.
Judges also could consider marital fault when awarding alimony. Although courts cannot use alimony to punish a spouse, evidence of the spouse’s bad conduct during a marriage could influence a decision about spousal support.
Divorcing spouses must make complete financial disclosures to each other. The numbers the spouses report influence property division, child support, and alimony. A spouse who makes an incomplete, erroneous, or fraudulent disclosure could face significant penalties.
A diligent spousal support lawyer in Red Bank might engage a forensic accountant to review the spouses’ financial disclosures. The accountant’s impressions, combined with interviews with the spouse about the other spouse’s spending habits and lifestyle, could create a suspicion that a spouse is hiding income or assets. In such cases, the legal professional could subpoena documents that might shed light on the matter or ask the other spouse to explain any apparent discrepancies.
If a spouse’s financial disclosures appear inaccurate and the spouse has not provided correct information, informing the judge may be necessary. Judges could consider the spouse’s attempted concealment when making decisions about property division and spousal support.
When you are divorcing, alimony is often a contentious issue. However, working with your spouse to arrive at an arrangement you both can live with is usually worthwhile, as it provides you privacy, control, and certainty.
Whether you reach a negotiated settlement or you leave the matter up to the judge to decide at trial, you need a sharp legal professional guiding you. Call a Red Bank spousal support lawyer at our firm today to secure dedicated counsel.