Alimony and Spousal Support in Divorce Actions

Posted on October 8, 2014 · Posted in Family Law

he general distinction between alimony and spousal support is that spousal support is only payable up until the finalization of the divorce action, while alimony may be ordered at a set amount and for a specific period of time subsequent to the finalization of the divorce action.

Spousal support calculations are established by rules which mandate the calculation of both spouses’ net monthly incomes.  Generally, a disparity in net incomes results in an award of spousal support. The spouse earning less is not required to show need in order to receive spousal support, but simply a disparity of net incomes between the parties.

If there are no minor children, the difference between the parties’ incomes is multiplied by 40% and the resulting figure is awarded.

In situations involving minor children, the amount of child support and the net income of the lesser-earning spouse are deducted from the higher-earning spouse’s net income. The resulting net amount is then multiplied by 30% to arrive at a spousal support amount.

There is what is known as an “entitlement defense” to spousal support, such as where the lesser-earning spouse has deserted the other spouse or has committed adultery.  In these situations, a party may be denied spousal support.

The Court must consider 17 factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate and the party seeking alimony must show an award is necessary. The party seeking alimony must prove their net monthly income is inadequate to meet monthly expenses.  Alimony is not awarded simply because one spouse earns more than the other.  An award of alimony is usually for a limited time period and very rarely for an indefinite time period.

If the parties have a large marital estate, as a practical matter the Court may award a greater percentage of the marital assets to the lesser-earning spouse but no alimony. There is certainly interplay between equitable distribution and alimony.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations regarding support issues, please feel free to contact Ronald S. McGlaughlin or Tonia Torquato.

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