Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

How alimony is determined in divorce cases

Family law attorneys in Virginia and around the country generally seek to nurture a spirit of compromise and cooperation during divorce negotiations before broaching possibly contentious issues like spousal support. Spouses who are expected to pay alimony often bitterly resent the monthly payments, but they may adopt a more flexible approach after learning why it is awarded and how it is calculated.

When divorce negotiations do not lead to an amicable settlement and the matter of spousal support is left to family law judges, the amount awarded is based on the needs of the recipient and the income of the payer. Judges also consider the lifestyle the couple enjoyed and the length of time they were married. Alimony was originally introduced to prevent homemakers being left destitute by a divorce, but it is now sometimes awarded even to spouses who work and earn a good living if their former partners earn substantially more.

Unlike divorce property settlements, spousal support awards may be revisited and modified if the financial situations of the parties involved change significantly. Courts sometimes award what is known as rehabilitative maintenance to people who require temporary financial support while they adjust to life after they divorce.

Attorneys may advise taking out life insurance policies on payers when their clients depend on this income for financial survival. This could be an especially prudent step to take if the payer is elderly or suffers from serious health issues. When negotiating alimony, attorneys may consider recent revisions to the nation's tax laws. Alimony recipients must now pay tax on it, and payers are no longer able to deduct it.

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Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

Kelly Byrnes & Danker, PLLC

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