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Alimony: Records You Should Keep After Divorce

Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, are payments made from the the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse after divorce. Alimony is not always awarded in a divorce, courts today are trending away from it, but alimony is typically granted when one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse, or that spouse has been out of the workforce for a period of time. It’s purpose is to allow the lower earning spouse to maintain their same standard of living while they work on becoming self-supporting. You and your spouse can agree on the amount of alimony and the length of time alimony will be paid. If you cannot agree, you can go to trial to settle the matter. If you are ordered to pay alimony, you are usually ordered to make monthly payments until: a date set by a judge several years in the future your former spouse remarries the judge determines that after a reasonable period of time, your spouse has not made reasonable efforts to become self supporting your children no longer need a full-time parent at home a significant event such as retirement occurs, which convinces a judge to modify the amount paid one of you dies. Alimony is tax-deductible for the person paying it, and is considered taxable income for the person receiving it. For this reason, it is very important to keep sufficient records, whether you are paying or receiving alimony. It is common for there to be disputes between the spouses about amounts paid or received, or sometimes the IRS challenges their claims. Without documentation of payments made and received, the...

How Is Spousal Support Determined?

When a couple divorces, the court may order one spouse to pay the other a certain amount of support money each month. Immediately after separation, a spouse can ask for support. This is referred to as temporary spousal support. It is utilized to maintain the living conditions and standards of the parties in as close to the status quo position as possible pending trial and the division of their assets and obligations. The court may use guidelines when fashioning an award of temporary spousal support. It can also be ordered once the divorce becomes final, as part of the final divorce judgment. The purpose of permanent spousal support is not to preserve the pre-separation status quo, but to provide financial assistance as determined by the financial circumstances of the parties after the divorce and division of their community property Unlike child support, awarding permanent spousal support requires review of many different factors. At this time, the judge considers the factors specified in California Family Code Section 4320. These include, but are not limited to: The length of the marriage Each person’s individual needs, based on the standard of living they had during the marriage What each person can afford to pay Earning capacity The age and health of each party Whether having a job would make it difficult to care for the minor children History of domestic violence How long should long-term spousal support last? In marriages of ten years or longer, the court often maintains jurisdiction to modify support indefinitely. Support ends on death or remarriage. According to Family Code Section 4336, shorter term marriages often have orders...