Ranking the Greatest and Nastiest States for Alimony What You Should Know About Alimony Before Getting Married

Ranking the Greatest and Nastiest States for Alimony What You Should Know About Alimony Before Getting Married

Alimony may have had its place in divorce, but far too often it is like a punishment for men. In a world where women continue to gain more of a percentage of the workforce, the need for alimony continues to come under fire. Some think alimony has traditionally been used as a way to get men to stay in a marriage they possibly did not want anymore. Whether true or not, thankfully, many states are changing those medieval modes of thinking about spousal support!

The Greatest Alimony States for Men

Georgia:

Georgia has some of the best laws in the country in regards to knocking out alimony from the divorce equation. Sometimes you have to wonder if they named it the Peach State after their alimony laws.

While some alimony can be ordered, usually it is not. They keep trying to improve their laws related to alimony, but as with legislation, it is difficult to cover all contingencies, like this one related to trust protection exclusion related to alimony.

Additionally, if the spousal payee committed adultery, they are barred from alimony payments altogether.

Texas:

Texas is one of the hardest states to get alimony payments in the country. It often is just not awarded at all.

The only downside is that the Lone Star State is a community-property state. Wealthy breadwinners beware! Property gets split down the middle.

Nevada:

The land of quickie marriages and divorces!

While this might not be the place where you make your last stand with your ex in a long, drawn-out battle, it can go very well in short, somewhat amicable divorces.

Note: Nevada is also a community property state.

Alaska:

Alaska has a non-monetary contribution to the marriage where marital fault may also be considered. But, this could be a double-edge sword.

If your wife contributed to the marriage by raising the kids, then, maybe it’s not so good. Conversely, if she cheated, the alimony gets booted.

New Hampshire:

Like Nevada, New Hampshire has a quick divorce turnaround time. While this does not always help with the alimony, it does give a failed marriage finality, faster. Then, you can move on with your life.

New Hampshire doesn’t just look at the usual things (earnings, children, education, etc.) but also each spouse’s earning potential outside the marriage.

Fault weighs heavily there, too, as does each spouse’s contributions to their joint properties.

The thorough examination is based on need and not a predetermined formula that might unfairly hurt the paying spouse.

Alabama:

In Alabama, the paying partner’s economic conditions are considered and weighed against the other spouse’s financial needs.

Alimony is ordered on a time frame, and ends:

  • Upon the death of either the payer or recipient,
  • When the recipient remarries, or
  • If the recipient moves in with a new mate

Cohabitation is important because (as you will see below) it means the receiving spouse cannot get away with receiving alimony payments for years while living with a new partner.

Delaware:

Delaware has some factors judges use to determine whether alimony is paid, and for how long.

Alimony is awarded for half the length of a marriage in cases where the divorce comes less than 20 years after the wedding date.

After the 20-year mark, however, it can go on for life.

Kansas:

By far one of the simplest systems in the country!

Kansas says alimony can last for a maximum of 121 months after the divorce. But, the awardee can apply for, and be granted, an additional 121 months in payments. This only happens in rare cases, though.

Tennessee:

Tennessee is committed to rehabilitative spousal support.They encourage job training and education.

That doesn’t mean judges will not order alimony to provide long-term support. It just means that spouses cannot receive money without genuine need.

Utah:

Alimony awards ordered not to exceed the length of the marriage. Also, they stop spousal support upon cohabitation and remarriage. What guy wants to pay an ex to live with some new guy?

The Worst Alimony States for Men

California:

While California was the first state to offer no-fault divorces, they are also one of the most expensive states in the country when it comes to court-ordered support after divorce.

Randall M. Kessler, chairman of the American Bar Association’s Section on Family Law, told Alan Farnham of ABC News,

“Child support in California is typically 10 times what it is…in Georgia or Nevada.”

For that reason alone, California, you made it onto the list of nastiest states for alimony in the country.

New Mexico:

This state’s laws allow scorned spouses to bring suit against their former partner’s new lover.

Talk about holding a grudge!

Mississippi:

Meet the second state to coddle grudge holders! Hell hath no wrath like legislators in New Mexico andMississippi!

Here, too, a scorned partner can legally sue their former spouse’s new lover for damages. Potentially, a non-guilty party can be held responsible for someone else’s failed marriage. Love to meet the jilted lover who created that law!

New York:

New York is one of the slowest states to reform their alimony laws. They held out on legalizing no-fault divorces until 2010. The delay cost litigants thousands of dollars in wasted fees.

That is the heart of the matter. New York has not made it easy for men seeking divorce to move on with their lives.

Colorado:

Colorado does not care if one or the other party to divorce can adequately support themselves.

Instead, they use a formula they call “temporary.” It takes 40% of the higher income deducted by 50% of the lower income. It is not based on financial reality. This “temporary” formula often becomes the long-term, more permanent formula.

Furthermore, Colorado is a community-property state. That means all property is divided equally. So, you could lose half of your property and assets. And then, still pay out 40% of your income.

Imagine getting divorced three times!? Does that mean you owe 120% of your income to your ex?

Florida:

The best way to sum up Florida’s messed up alimony policies is through the story of Debbie Israel.

The 47-year-old college math teacher from Miami refuses to marry her fiancé because of the state’s alimony for life laws. Once they get married, she will have to give a percentage of her wages to her would-be husband’s ex-wife as part of his household, permanently.

Yep, this makes Florida one of the nastiest states for alimony in the country.

West Virginia:

They almost didn’t make the nasty list. Their laws regarding marital misconduct ensure no adulterer, convicted felon, or spouse deserter gets awarded alimony.

But they do allow for the ordering of permanent spousal support. Were it not for that, they’d be on the nice list.

New Jersey:

The Garden State probably represents a lot of disheartening news for many spouses. They’re one of the last remaining states where permanent alimony is a possibility. While the system is equitable, permanent is not a sound way to set up alimony for couples who were only together for a few years.

Vermont & Connecticut:

I know I’m going all broken record here, but the thought of paying alimony in perpetuity stinks! It is with that thought in mind that I welcome Vermont and Connecticut to the list of nastiest states for alimony.

They round out the list of the worst 10 for that particular reason.

Final Thoughts

Residing in the right state is not a Get out of Jail Free, alimony card. However, it can significantly reduce your expenses over time.

While many of us can’t just pack up and move to a different state whenever we want, even if for more favorable alimony environment, we can have influence over the working situation in our home. The key reason for alimony across the country is to provide support while a non-working spouse re-enters the workforce. If both spouses work throughout the marriage, or definitely the years before the divorce, the alimony claims reduce significantly.

Alimony laws in this country ultimately vary from state to state. Pay attention (Now!) to the laws in your state before you get married. Make sure you will not get the screw when (and if) you divorce.

Make sure you’re with someone with whom you want to spend your life. Being sure is a much better alternative to being sorry.

How did your state shape up? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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What Every Guy Needs to Know About the Financial Side of Divorce Prepare Yourself Before Its Too Late

What Every Guy Needs to Know About the Financial Side of Divorce Prepare Yourself Before Its Too Late

Divorce is like an emotional hurricane. It’s hard to think straight in the middle of the emotional storm, and it’s normal for your financial frame of mind to blur when going through a divorce. But no matter your stress level or your fuzzy frame of mind, it’s extremely important to prepare yourself for the financial side of divorce.

Your divorce is going to result in decisions that will have a huge impact on your finances both now and in the future. Don’t wait until you’re mid or post-divorce to figure out the costs. This can lead to unwanted surprises. But being prepared ensures you won’t be financially devastated as you move forward.

8 Tips To Help Handle the Financial Side of Divorce

  1. Get Educated about the Financial Side of Divorce

Your finances is an important element that you naturally think about in the break-up of your marriage. Divorce is stressful and traumatic, and with emotions running rampant, you’re likely not going to be thinking clearly during your divorce. But you need to be educated about the costs that come along with your divorce, and get yourself ready to deal with them.

From lawyers and experts, to real estate agents, financial planning, and therapy, costs can range between $10,000 to $20,000. If managed properly, the cost can be considerably lower. Whatever the case may be, make sure you’re prepared for the cost of your divorce by educating yourself.

  1. Know Your Financial Obligations

If you have children, you’re likely the one who’s going to pay child support.  If child support is part of your divorce agreement, you are legally obligated to pay it. Some guys who are supposed to pay child support don’t pay it or don’t pay it in full, which is a legal no-no. The well-being of your children should come first, and the amount of child support that’s decided by the court or mandated by the state is what you’re obligated to pay.

Always pay your child support in full. If there’s a significant change in your financial situation or in your custody agreement it can be adjusted. But, until then, you should pay what is required. Child support pays for everything from the basic necessities of life like food, clothing and housing, and may include child care, education fees, medical expenses and extra curricular activities. If you’re concerned about the money not going to your children, try to find alternate solutions where you can pay service providers directly.

  1. Be Open to Alimony

Whether you chose to be a stay-at-home dad, or your ex chose to be a stay at home mom, be open to the possibility of alimony. Lots of guys are closed-off to the idea of alimony, not wanting to give the Ex a free ride. But, paying alimony for some short duration of time should also reduce your child support obligation.

Keep in mind, when you’re the one writing the alimony check, the alimony payments are tax deductible, whereas child support is not. Try offsetting child support, dollar for dollar, with alimony so a to take advantage of the tax savings.

  1. Do Not Hide Your Assets

Divorce can be scary, but the last thing you want to do is panic and move money out of your bank account and into hiding. If the money is found (which it likely will be), you’ll lose your credibility in court and won’t be trusted in any asset discussions. Worse, you may be penalized by the court for your deceit.

Revealing your assets is a legal requirement of all divorcing couples, so disclose everything that belongs to you and don’t hide anything. On top of not being trusted in court, you could be ordered to pay your ex’s attorney fees or the court may even award her all of your undisclosed assets.

  1. Track the Money

You should locate all of your marital financial resources to help ensure your future. This includes everything from your bank accounts and assets to incomes, properties, retirement plan, vehicles, furniture, brokerage accounts, and insurance policies – everything that’s owned jointly and/or separately by the two of you. Then organize everything into 401(k) and IRA statements, employment retirement accounts, employment bonuses and stock options/awards, real estate holdings, insurance policies (those that have cash values), mortgages, house and vacation home appraisals, brokerage accounts, money market accounts and tax returns. Tracking your monetary assets now can help stabilize your financial situation in the future.

  1. Protect Yourself

There are many ways to protect yourself, your finances and your assets during the divorce process. Separate your non-marital assets – property belonging to you, such as gifts you were given, that are not subject to equitable distribution. Also, make sure to cancel any joint bank accounts and open individual accounts, but, be careful not to disproportionately take more than what is rightfully yours in the process. Check your credit reports from all three credit agencies (EquifaxTransunionExperian) and double check that all credit cards in your report are accounted for an/or cancelled. Get new credit cards in your name and close all unused credit accounts. You don’t want your Ex racking additional debt during the divorce process for which you may be held responsible

And don’t be afraid to talk to your spouse to get the information you need. It’s important you’re both aware of your complete financial situation and understand the debts you share as a couple and individually. To avoid unforeseen surprises, with the help of your attorney, ask for a full disclosure of all financial records and accounts and be prepared to share yours. Don’t forget to change your will (and beneficiaries), medical proxy, living will, and your brokerage account beneficiaries too.

  1. Create a Post-Divorce Budget

Your post-divorce life is going to look much different than your life did when you were married, and it’s important you prepare a budget to account for everything that may come your way. Every day expenses are going to change when you’re single, and if you have kids, you’re going to want to make sure you have everything they need to feel at home and comfortable in your new place.

It’s easy to just focus on divorce-related expenses like child support and alimony, but it’s key to recognize your new reality. Talk to a financial planner if you need to, and create a realistic and meaningful budget for your new single  lifestyle.

  1. Resist the Urge to Impulse Buy

It’d likely you did not initiate the divorce, but divorce always results in a sense of loss. You’re losing a big part of your life and it’s likely very devastating. People deal with loss in different ways, and sometimes we think, albeit illogically, that making a big purchase, like an expensive new car or a big new house will make us feel better.

Divorce is expensive. Your post-divorce life is going to come with new costs you won’t be accustomed to or prepared for. Resist the urge to purchase expensive items on impulse, especially within the first twelve to twenty four months of your divorce.

If you’re about to go through a split, don’t neglect the financial side of divorce. It may be the last thing you want to think about, but it’s crucial for your financial well-being.

What are your biggest questions or concerns when it comes to divorce financials? Write us and let us know in your comments below.

Alimony 101 An Introduction to Spousal Support

Alimony 101 An Introduction to Spousal Support

It’s the punchline of a thousand bad movie jokes…but what does it actually mean? What does it entail?

What It Means 

The word “alimony” is derived from the Latin alere, meaning “to nourish”, and the concept is simple: it is the legal obligation of one spouse in a marriage to provide financially for the other after separation or divorce. If it helps, think of your marriage as kind of like a cell phone contract; you can break that contract, but you’re gonna pay for doing it.

In the past, the paying spouse was invariably the male spouse…but as social norms have changed, and with the advent of same-sex marriage in many states, that’s no longer always the case.

So what does that mean for you? Will you have to pay support? Can you ask for spousal support? The answer is: it depends. Financial support is not an automatic right, but either party can ask for it during divorce proceedings. In many cases, the terms of financial support can be handled privately between both parties. But if you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement, the courts can step in, and that’s where it gets complicated.

State Laws Vary on Alimony 

How support is assigned, and how much and how long, varies wildly depending upon where you live. Each state is different and your divorce lawyer will be intimately familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. In many states, spousal support is only awarded if the marriage lasted over ten years or if you have children. (In that case, spousal support is still handled separately from child support, which is a whole other massive deal.) Some states factor marital fault into support proceedings: if you cheated on your wife, you might end up literally paying for it.

Some states have limits on how long spousal support must be paid; in Kansas, for example, payments cannot last more than ten years and one month, while in Utah, it can’t last longer than your marriage did. On the other hand, if you live in Mississippi, Massachusetts or Tennessee, you might be expected to pay until the day you die or your former spouse dies or gets remarried.

Some states have alimony pendente lite, which is basically “separation spousal support” that is paid from one spouse to another during the separation period, until the divorce is finalized. If you’re a house husband or stay-at-home dad and your wife kicks you to the curb, you can ask for “rehabilitative support” from her, which will only cover you until you can get a job and a place and get on your feet.

Where and How Much 

But let’s assume you’re the one who gets saddled with making payments. How does the court determine how much you’re going to be shelling out each month? Again, it depends on where you live, but it’s also going to depend on how much you make; the standard of living you provided for your spouse during the marriage; whether your spouse supported you at any point during your marriage…the list goes on and on.

And it’s usually not going to be cheap. Generally, you won’t be asked to pay more than you can afford and still cover your own bills, but it’s important to remember that most courts consider spousal support more important than voluntary debts (like credit card bills or car payments) and won’t take those into account, which might leave you in a tricky position. The one upside is that the federal tax system allows you to deduct spousal support when filing your taxes. (If you’re receiving support, though, it’s considered taxable income.) Negotiating court-ordered support is what your lawyer’s for, but you can also use this handy-dandy calculator to get a ballpark figure.

Try To Reach an Amicable Agreement 

For childless couples, negotiating spousal support can be the nastiest part of divorce proceedings. In the long run, it’s going to be a lot cheaper and less painful if you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of alimony between the two of you, and come to an amicable agreement without bringing your lawyers (and their billing departments) and a judge into it. If you can find a way to make sure that everybody gets what they think they’re entitled to, for as long as they need it, it will make the transition out of the marriage that much easier.

 

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More Tactics You Need When Divorcing an Addict Division of Assets and Alimony

More Tactics You Need When Divorcing an Addict Division of Assets and Alimony

Divorcing an addict comes with its own set of unique challenges, and requires specific strategies to address them. In the first part of this series, we discuss the prevalence of addiction as a leading factor in divorce, strategies for filing for divorce from an addict, and custody involving substance abuse. We continue with two remaining issues: Division of Assets and Alimony.

Division of Assets in Divorce with an Addict

Divorce laws are mandated at the state level. This means the laws in one state can be different than laws governing divorce in the neighboring state. It is crucial to always check with an attorney in your state of residence, or do your own research on your state laws, before taking action.

The Issue of Economic Impact

In many states, courts do not consider fault when making a judgment on division of property. However, in some states, a spouse’s behavior during the marriage is relevant, and a judge will consider a spouse’s substance abuse when dividing the marital estate. The legal category of fault that would apply if your spouse is an addict is “marital misconduct.” Currently, a majority of states will consider marital misconduct only if it has an “economic impact” on the marital finances.

There are a smaller number of states that are allowed to consider marital misconduct, such as the behavior of an addict, regardless if the misconduct had a negative economic impact on the marital estate. In states where martial misconduct is admissible as a consideration, the court has the discretion to award a larger share of the marital estate to the sober spouse.

Legality of Fault

Alcoholism itself is not usually considered fault. Since the medical community increasingly views alcoholism as a physical disease, it does not constitute a “moral failure” alone. What can be considered fault is the “economic impact” of the disease of addiction. Again, this is the fallout from an alcoholic’s chaotic behavior on the marital family and estate. DUI convictions, inability to stay employed, crashing cars, spending copious amounts of money on alcohol and alcohol induced spending binges can all be negative impacts that constitute fault under “marital misconduct.”

Generally, when divorcing an addict, drug abuse is viewed the same as alcohol abuse. Addiction itself is not likely to constitute fault, but in many states where fault can be introduced as a factor in division of assets, the court is free to consider any negative consequences of the addiction on either you and your family or the marital estate.

Simply put, the tangible effects of alcohol or drug abuse are a legal consideration in states where it is permissible to consider marital misconduct. For example, if your ex’s alcoholism limited her ability to contribute to the marriage financially and her behavior under the influence of alcohol had substantial negative consequences on the marriage, you would have a case to introduce marital misconduct with economic impact.

An addiction that will result in public scrutiny, possibly ruining your ex-wife’s reputation, career opportunities, and even putting her at risk for criminal prosecution, can be a handy bargaining chip in asset negotiations. Your ex-wife may agree to forgo a humiliating court battle and settle on favorable terms. It is advisable to discuss this option with your attorney. Not only will it save you time and money to keep the fight out of the courts, but it will keep any kids involved in the marriage from additional trauma.

Alimony and Addiction  

Unlike with child support where the formulas for payments are clear and quite rigid, in most states, the amount and duration of spousal support payments are under total discretion of the judge. In fact, only about a dozen states even have general guidelines for calculating alimony. While a sympathetic judge could admonish your ex for the damage she caused with her addiction; there is no way to predict the outcome of a decision that is wholly in the hands of a judge. It is advisable to discuss with your attorney if it may be a better tactic to try and negotiate with your ex directly so you can avoid the risk of an unfavorable judgment.

While most states do not set guidelines for judges in determining alimony, there are a few factors that are commonly used to calculate a starting figure. The judge then factors in other circumstances of the marriage and arrives at an amount and duration for payments. Let’s look at some of the factors that come into play when divorcing an addict. 

1. Need and Ability to Pay

If the court decides your ex-wife is entitled to support, the next step is to ascertain her need and balance that with your ability to pay. To do so, the judge may take into account:

  • how the property is being divided in the divorce
  • the standard of living during the marriage, and her ability to maintain that standard without your support
  • each spouse’s separate income, assets, and obligations
  • the length of the marriage (used more to decide how long support should continue and not the amount)
  • whether you both lived together before you were married and whether the period of cohabitation should be included in the length of the marriage
  • each spouse’s age and health
  • the needs of the children, and if child care responsibilities affect your ex-wife’s ability to return to work
  • whether the dependent spouse left the workforce to be a homemaker or raise children
  • how long the dependent spouse has been out of the workforce and her marketable skills
  • contributions that either spouse made to the other’s training, education, or career advancement
  • Any assets that may be forthcoming in the future (such as a large inheritance)
  • any additional factors the judge finds pertinent to the case

 

2. Earning Capacity

Beyond considering your actual income, a judge may examine your general ability to earn money. Let’s say you have a medical degree, but you gave up practicing medicine to pursue your passion for writing science fiction novels. The judge can “impute” to you the higher income of a medical professional with your same training. You would then be ordered to pay support in the amount consistent with your earning ability, and not with your actual income as a self-published novelist. The rationale for considering earning capacity is to avoid punishing one spouse financially for the other spouse’s decision to voluntarily choose a lower standard of living.

3. Fault

Just as with division of assets, fault can be considered in some states. You can argue that fault should be considered even if you did not file for divorce on the grounds of fault. If the court sees it your way, it can reduce support payments.

A judge may take a spouse’s addiction into account when determining alimony if she has depleted the marital assets to maintain her addiction. As with division of assets, a substance abuse problem gives you the upper hand, and often addicts will agree to terms which favor the sober spouse to stay out of court. While addiction does not automatically inhibit your ex-wife from receiving an equitable share of marital assets in a marriage, or from receiving a judgment for alimony, it may be taken into account and reduce the share of assets and alimony, perhaps considerably.

Divorcing an Addict in Treatment

Divorcing an addict can be tricky when it comes to support. In some rare cases, a sober spouse could be required to pay alimony to an addicted spouse to help with her treatment expenses. For instance, if her addiction was deemed to be the result of a mental illness, or to have led to a mental illness, you as the sober spouse may be ordered to pay any additional costs of treatment not covered by disability benefits.

Since in most states, alimony is based on a number of factors that are used to determine your wife’s needs against your ability to pay, if your ex-wife’s treatment needs are extensive, but your ability to pay is limited, that will be taken into account and help balance each other out.

Discuss options with an attorney, and you can likely figure out a settlement that will help your wife get back on her feet, and able to get and hold a job of her own, while ensuring the money will not be spent on alcohol or narcotics. Helping your wife overcome her addiction with a professional recovery program may be your best bet for ensuring that she can become economically independent, and even be able to help support her children, lifting the burden solely off you.

Getting Help

Wherever you live in the country, these online resources can help you find support and information for dealing with your wife’s addiction. You do not have to go through this alone.


(c) Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

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States Favorable to Alimony for Men Divorce Advice for Stay at Home Dads

States Favorable to Alimony for Men Divorce Advice for Stay at Home Dads

What do you know about alimony for men? Is alimony “gender neutral” just like custody should be?  If you’re a stay at home dad, should you expect to be given the same consideration as a woman in divorce court?

Here we will give you the latest on alimony for men, what the trends are looking like, and the states most likely to be father-friendly when it comes to spousal support.

History Did Not Contemplate Alimony for Men

This isn’t the article to dive deep into the origins, past, present, and future of alimony. We’ve already done that at Guyvorce. One takeaway from that series is that the origin of alimony is all based on money paid from a man to a woman. The ancient origins of spousal support did not include alimony for men.

The origin, though, is well rooted in the past. But we as a society are past that. We’ve seen Susan B. Anthony fight for suffrage, we’ve seen bra’s burned, and the glass ceiling shattered many times in corporate America. So any argument tying alimony to its roots as a “just for women” thing is clearly outdated and irrelevant. 

More Dads Are Primary Caregivers Then Ever Before

There are not real-time statistics available on the current percentage of alimony awards going to men, but we can extrapolate from stats that are a few years old to get a good idea. For example, according to the 2010 census records, only 3% of alimony awards went to men. But the numbers are growing.

We also  know that in 2013, almost half of households with children (40%) were financially supported by female breadwinners.  Of that group, 25% that are single mothers. That leaves 15% of married women providing or leading the income supply at home in 2013. More recent federal wage studies indicate that in married couples where both spouses work, 28% are households where the woman brings home the bigger paycheck.

Now that more women are paying huge chunks of their income in “manimony” they, too, are jumping on the alimony-reform bandwagon.

As of 2012, more than 2 million men were stay at home dads, almost double the 1989 measurement. These fathers were became the primary caregiver of their kids due to a variety of factors, including illness, disability, the inability to find a good paying job, and yes, because they want to care for their home and children.

Alimony and Child Custody Report Card for the States

Just as current statistics on alimony are hard to come by, state level alimony information is likewise difficult to nail down. For those states that do regularly consider alimony awards, though, the data on gender application are limited.

Again, some extrapolations can be made.  For the purpose of this article, we are assuming that states that are father-friendly when it comes to child custody are more likely to be amenable to alimony for men who are the stay-at-home parent.

There is one category of states that stand out from the others in their award record of alimony and these are states that don’t usually award alimony at all. Texas, as an example, has a sizable child support calculation, but also rarely awards spousal support or alimony. North Carolina also is a good example in their exclusion of alimony in the event of adultery.

Alimony decisions are supposed to be independent of child custody decisions. Yes, child support payment amounts should take into account the dollars actually exchanging hands based on alimony, but whether to award either type of payment is independent.

Decades ago, when the tender years doctrine dominated custody decisions, the mother in nearly all cases was awarded custody of the children. That standard, thankfully, has been replaced with one that looks into the best interest of the children. At the same time, scientific studies have been performed over the decades’ worth of children that have grown up in divorced situations. These studies almost universally point to the fact that children that grow up in shared custody environments are better off than those with less time spent with one of the parents.

Even with these studies and shift in governing doctrine, though, not all states are doing well in their interpretation of best interest and the associated award of shared custody. The states that do well in shared custody awards appear to get it, and will likely do well at understanding how alimony should be awarded when the dad is the caretaking parent.  

The National Parents Organization tracks effectively how well states are doing in making the right decisions for children during divorce through the states’ custody decisions. In their annual report, they cite six states as the best in keeping gender out of divorce decisions for custody, and are likely to be father-friendly for alimony, as well.

These top states are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • South Dakota

Proposed Uniform Marriage and Divorce Statutes  

Family law is determined by each individual state. Each state is responsible for their individual divorce standards and application of alimony, although there has been a proposed set of statutes pending since 1970 that would provide uniformity of state laws pertaining to marriage. Drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, the proposed Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act  provide a template that may be adopted by any state for resolution of domestic disputes – including alimony and child custody – with consideration given to the following areas:

  • Requesting spouse’s financial condition
  • Time required for job training or education
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Requesting spouse’s age, physical condition, and emotional state
  • Length of the marriage
  • Ability of the other spouse to pay

Nowhere in the law is there a reference to gender. Therefore any award, or failure of award, that comes from these guidelines should be equally applied to both spouses.

Alimony for Men Advice

Even if your state is at the bottom of the list when it comes to alimony and child support, your battle is not lost. The number of women in the U.S. who are paying alimony to men is steadily growing. Alimony is designed to provide that bridge for one spouse to keep the households at a near-equal standard of living while the receiving spouse gets back into the workforce and financially independent. The need for the help is often driven by the amount of time the receiving spouse was out of the workforce, or untrained, based on joint decisions for the marital home.

This means that if you are the man in the marriage and are the one who stayed home to raise the kids for years and have been out of the workforce for a good period of time, you have a legitimate claim for alimony.

Regardless of your home state, if a divorce is likely, get proper legal counsel as soon as possible. Be sure to tell your attorney if you are the primary caregiver of the home and children, if your wife is the primary or only wage-earner, and if you gave up or deferred employment or educational opportunities to support your wife’s career goals.  Alimony for men is the new normal in divorce court. Get what you, and your kids deserve.  

 

Do you have first-hand experience with alimony? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Check out our series on The Alimony Chronicles, beginning with Part 1. And now’s the time to learn What Men Need to Know About Alimony and Taxes.

 

There are millions of stay-at-home dads.

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(c) Can Stock Photo / VILevi

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The Alimony Chronicles, Part 4 Exploring the Future of Alimony Reform

The Alimony Chronicles, Part 4 Exploring the Future of Alimony Reform

Welcome to the final chapter in our four-part series.  So far we’ve established in The Alimony Chronicles that spousal support is the payment of financial support, either in a lump-sum or periodic payments, from one spouse to another during a legal separation and after divorce. In this series, we’ve looked at the roots of spousal support, and the effects on husbands and wives.

In this, our final chapter, we will recap our previous installments by taking a broader look at alimony – how it works today, and what the future of spousal support may look like.

Changes In Family Law, Divorce Rates, and Average Age of First Marriage

The 1970’s brought dramatic changes in women’s rights and family law. spousal support was no longer automatically granted to the wife. Gender discrimination in awarding spousal support was banned, so alimony was not just for women anymore!

Women entered the workforce in ever-increasing numbers. Pay scales for women began rising. Changes in divorce law, especially the enactment of no-fault divorce in most states, led to a short-lived jump in divorce rates. After a big spike, the U.S. Census Bureau information shows a general leveling off of divorce rates by 2009.

In the 50’s, men were marrying at around 23. By 2009, the average age rose to 28 for men being married for the first time. The age of first marriage for women rose from 20 to 26 for the same time period.

So what does that have to do with alimony today?

Alimony Calculations

In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that some states have rules for a judge to follow in calculating spousal support. In others, it is up to the discretion of the court. Other common factors include.

1. Ability to Pay

If alimony is on the table for either party, the first thing to be looked into is the person’s ability to pay. The court will determine how much is left from the spouse’s gross pay after deducting mandatory deductions like income taxes and social security.

Not everything coming out of a paycheck will be deducted by the court, so you can’t go by the amount of take-home pay. For example, if money is deducted from a paycheck for voluntary deductions or savings, those may not be considered mandatory deductions and will be included in the allowable total.

2. Ability to Earn

The court will look at the ability of both husband and wife to make a living. And not just how much the person is making now. There is a big difference between someone who can’t work and someone who refuses to get a job. The judge will look into that.

Earning capacity, the ability to make a living in the future, is an important factor in calculating spousal support. On the one hand, the amount of support to be paid is affected by the court’s idea of how much the payer should be earning over time. On the other, the court will also look into the ability and circumstances of the person getting alimony to figure out how long it should take for that person to become self-supportive.

Short-term or rehabilitative support is awarded for a set time period to allow the more dependent spouse to update skills and find employment. At some point the payments will definitely end, so the spouse on the receiving end is motivated to do what it takes to get a job.

In cases of real hardship, the person getting rehabilitative support can ask the court to extend the payment period. Judges will usually not grant an extension without proof of financial hardship. The goal is not to take advantage of the payer.

The paying party can ask to have payments stop before the end of the period ordered if the recipient becomes self-supporting ahead of the established deadline. It works both ways.

3. Custody of Children

While child support is a separate type of award in a divorce case, the custody of the couple’s children is taken into consideration by the court when awarding alimony. The judge may consider the age of the children, the number of children, and any special needs of the children. Also, depending on the circumstances, the court may also look at the cost of daycare if the custodial parent has to work. And if there is daycare available at all.

If the court decides it makes more sense for the custodial parent to stay home, at least for a while, there may be spousal support awarded.

Death and Taxes: Only Two Things Are Certain

Alimony payments stop when one or the other dies. Getting around this requires special terms to be spelled out in the divorce decree. However, if it was the person ordered to pay that dies, the receiving party who is owed unpaid alimony before the payor died can make a claim against the responsible party’s estate for funds owed.

As far as taxes go, spousal support has certain implications for both sides. While payors are eligible for a deduction in the amount of support paid, the recipient must also claim this amount as income. For an up-to-date expert explanation of how the IRS evaluates support payments, see our recent article, Alimony and Taxes, by Janet Berry-Johnson, CPA.

The Future of Spousal Support

Couples today are older, better educated, and more financially stable when they marry. The majority of married women work outside the home. Many of these women make as much or more than the husband.

Women are no longer seen as helpless and dependent. Staying out of the workforce to raise children doesn’t change this. The expectation is that most women are capable of supporting themselves after a divorce.

As in the 1970’s when the no-fault divorce was adopted from state to state, there is a movement growing today to reform legislation, or abolish alimony entirely.

A good example of dramatic reform is the 2014 bill signed by the Governor of New Jersey that made major changes to the way spousal support will be treated going forward in that state. The sweeping changes affect the amount and timing of payments.

  • For divorcing couples married less than 20 years, the period for support payments will not be longer than the length of the marriage except in unusual circumstances.
  • Spousal support can be ended when the paying ex-spouse reaches full retirement age.
  • Support can be terminated if the receiving spouse starts living with a new partner, even if they are not married.

Another example of significant reform is playing out today in Florida, where there is a bill in play that would change Florida’s allowable support  provisions. If passed, the new rules would require all judges to use the same set of formulas based on the length of the marriage and the couple’s income to calculate potential alimony awards, and also includes a provision to assist support payers with a way to determine if the spousal support recipient is avoiding work, or not working to his or her potential.

These are just two examples of the new wave of family law and alimony changes that will impact divorcing couples in coming years. Stay tuned to Guyvorce for divorce support and updates on the latest trends that will affect you.
Each chapter of this series can be read alone. But if you are new to the series, you may want to check out Part 1, where we looked at the earliest examples of family law from ancient times and how that carried through to laws today. Part 2  tackles the evolution of financial support for women. And Part 3 looks at the changing spousal support landscape from a man’s point of view.

 

Alimony is still a hot topic.

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