As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But if you’re already at the point of having to pay alimony after a divorce, then you know that you can’t go back and change how much prevention you put into the divorce itself. So what’s the cure? Information. The better you arm yourself with legal knowledge, the better you’ll be able to ensure that your alimony payments not exceed what is legally required.
To arm you with that information, we’re presenting this brief guide to the ins and outs of alimony payments.
First Things First: Why Does Alimony Exist?
When you get divorced and split up property, assets, and even custody of your children, it may seem like things are totally equal – or at least as equal as they’re ever going to be. The need for one party to make regular payments to the other party seems superfluous; why should they deserve money that’s earned after the divorce took place?
The reasoning of many divorce courts is that during a marriage, one spouse might sacrifice certain things to contribute to the earning potential of the other spouse. For example, if both parties work together to send the husband through college, his increased earning potential is something that he can use to his advantage after the divorce, even though the earning potential was increased as the result of the work of both husband and wife.
Whether or not you agree with this philosophy, it’s the reasoning for alimony. And it’s the reason you may find yourself in the predicament you’re currently in.
When Alimony is Set
You may feel that you’ve gotten off with a good deal when your alimony payment is set to a token amount of money – say, one dollar per year. But having alimony payments there in the first place may be precedent to increase the alimony payments later on; the mere existence of the payments already suggests to future courts that the reasoning was justified.
In other cases, judges will simply not set an alimony payment because they aren’t awarding alimony to either side.
Generally, the thing to understand is that alimony is not administered as punishment, but because of a perceived inequity in the results of the marriage between both of the parties.
Fighting an Alimony Award
Generally, there is little you can do once alimony has been set. You can appeal the divorce itself (and therefore the alimony that was award in the divorce), but there is not much chance you’ll be able to take away the court’s decision to set an alimony payment separately.
The better educated you are about alimony payments, the better you’ll be able to handle the prospect of one when it’s time for your settlement to be announced. Divorce is a difficult thing; it’s not surprising that its effects are, too. If you’re still in an opportunity to save your marriage or prepare for a divorce, make sure that you’re ready to fight to keep all of your earnings.