An alimony award can be ordered by a judge to aid in the financial assistance of a spouse with lesser resources, and further compensate a spouse for their work done at home while a spouse was out in the work force. Alimony is seen as necessary for many individuals to survive and bounce back financially after a divorce. Therefore, it is important to know the statutory guidelines, and what makes a spouse eligible for such an award. Discuss your need for financial support with your attorney and allow them to evaluate your situation in regards to the statutory factors listed.
When determining an alimony award, the court looks to many different factors. However, the financial status of the parties is a large component. Florida statute 61.08 requires the court to first determine whether a party has an actual need of alimony, and the opposite party has the ability to pay. This is directly correlated with the financial incomes and assets of the party. Further, when determining an alimony award the court will look to “the financial resources of each party, including the nonmarital and the marital assets and liabilities distributed to each. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable such party to find appropriate employment. All sources of income available to either party, including income available to either party through investments of any asset held by that party.” Each of these factors surrounds the financial statutes of the parties. Therefore, it is imperative to provide the court with a full and accurate picture of each parties’ financial abilities prior to an alimony award.
In order for the courts to make a proper determination of an alimony award, it is critical to gather accurate information regarding the financial status of the parties including, assets and salaries. This award can be severely diminished if a paying party is underreporting their income and receiving money “under the table,” or can be overvalued if the receiving party is underreporting their income. The court will require each party to file a financial affidavit during the divorce process. This document will list the monthly income and expenses of each party as well as all assets and liabilities. The court will use this to determine not only an equitable distribution award but this will be a main factor in their alimony determination. This document will be attested to by you and your spouse for truthfulness and accuracy. Failure to report any income could result in punishment by the court. Therefore, even if you or your spouse is working under the table, you must report this income to the court. Failure to do so could result in stiff penalties and an inaccurate alimony award.
If you or your spouse later discovers a party is underreporting their income, or even was at the time of your divorce, you may request a modification of your alimony award. In order to request a modification, there must be a substantial change in circumstances. Such a change may be a dramatic change in employment or income level impacting the need and ability to pay. The court has many options in an alimony modification and can increase, decrease or terminate the alimony award all together. Therefore, if you are underreporting your income and your divorce has become final, you are still not clear from retribution. It is imperative to accurately divulge your income and assets to the court as your alimony award may be terminated if they later discover you have no need for such financial assistance.
Be forthcoming with your attorney, as they will be able to argue for your rights and need for alimony in an accurate manner. The knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorneys are prepared to discuss your options with you and formulate a plan to protect your financial future.
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