Divorce 101: Alimony Payments

Divorce can be quite tricky, especially if a couple has been together a long time. The partners need to carefully consider the financial aspects involved in dissolving a marriage. Further, it may be necessary for a partner to make alimony or spousal maintenance payments. Below is information divorcing couples should consider.

Chances are the decision to get divorced was a difficult one. Perhaps you struggled with the decision for months or even years before finally deciding to dissolve your marriage. You understand that divorce can be time consuming, emotional, and expensive; however, you may not realize just how pricey a divorce can really be. In addition to paying courtroom and attorney fees, divorcing couples may also need to make child support or possibly alimony or spousal maintenance payments. Typically, one partner will make child support payments to the other parent who has primary custody of the child, and ordinarily the guidelines in the Texas Family Code are followed in determining the amount to be paid. Alimony payments, however, can be a bit more tricky to calculate. Here's what you need to know.

What is alimony?

Simply put, alimony is money provided to one partner by the other partner, either temporarily while a divorce is pending, or may continue after a divorce is granted. If one partner makes significantly more than the other, alimony payments may be agreed upon by the partners or may be court-ordered if the facts of the case warrant it. These payments may help the partner who makes less money make it through the divorce and establish a new life after the marriage is dissolved. As stated above, alimony payments may be required only temporarily, such as during the divorce proceedings. For example, if one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent for years, that parent may need time to find a job that pays enough for his or her needs. Alimony may be ordered during this transition period. Also, if a marriage lasted several years - over ten years generally - one partner may be required to pay a percentage of his or her income for years to the spouse who makes less and is unable to meet his or her financial needs.

Why pay alimony?

Alimony payments may be a stressful topic for you to deal with, especially if your partner is the one who requested the separation and you are requested to pay. It may be comforting to keep in mind that these payments are designed to help you and your partner break away from each physically, to new residences, and financially. If one partner does not have the separate means to relocate to a new home or even hire an attorney, alimony payments will help cover that cost.

What are the other financial implications of divorce?

In addition to child support and alimony payments, understand that during a divorce, financial assets will typically be divided. If you and your partner purchased property or vehicles during your marriage, these assets may be ordered sold and the profits divided between the partners, or they may be awarded to an individual partner. In addition to physical assets, you may need to divide financial assets, including retirement accounts, stocks, bank accounts, etc. Dealing with debts acquired during a marriage is also a concern for divorcing couples. Dissolution of marriage does not mean one party is no longer responsible for a debt incurred during the marriage, even if that debt is not in your name.

If you have questions about alimony or you'd like to talk with someone about how to prepare financially for a divorce, make sure you reach out to a divorce attorney who can help you every step of the way.