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How much alimony?

In a prior blog I dealt with the types of alimony. But how much alimony will I have to pay or how much alimony will I receive?

There are no charts or statutes that specify the amount. There are only general guidelines in the case law and statutes.

The basic model is for a relatively long term marriage with a housewife and working husband. In a marriage over 17 or 18 years, the court must consider the lifestyle of the family before the divorce, the income producing assets (if any) awarded the wife, the realistic ability of the wife to earn a living, and the ability of the husband to pay alimony.

The parties are required to fill out and serve financial affidavits. The affidavits list all assets and debts and list each party's monthly income and expenses. The document provides a basis to determine what the wife may realistically need to live on.

Unless there is a physical disability, a healthy adult is presumed to be able to at least work full time for minimum wage. If the wife has the ability to earn more, that figure should be used. After every divorce, both parties are expected to work for a living if they are able to do so. The wife's monthly need is then reduced by the amount she can be expected to be earn.

If there are income producing assets awarded to the wife, that average monthly income is also used to reduce the need for alimony.

Finally, we determine what the post-divorce income will be for the husband. If there is ample excess income, then the alimony due the wife for this long term marriage will be her monthly need, reduced by the amount she is expected to earn, reduced by any other source of income available to her.

In most cases there has to be a compromise between on wife's need for alimony and the husband's ability to pay. Before the divorce there was one household to support and after the divorce there will be two households. In addition there may be children to support. In these cases the parties or the court must decide how best to "make the pain equal." One party may not be reduced to poverty because of the divorce while the other moves on to prosperity.

These principles are also used to determine the basis for a compromise of one party's need versus the other party's ability to pay in shorter marriages, with the added issue of how long the alimony may be needed. If you need my help, go to my web site at www.peppler or call my office for a consult.

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