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High profile divorce ends with spousal support obligation

Sadly, many marriages end in divorce. When they do, several issues must be dealt with including property division, child custody, and child support. Perhaps the most difficult aspect to settle is alimony. To get a clearer idea of how alimony works an example is of use.

In New York recently, a very successful business man and his wife finalized their divorce. As part of the divorce, the business man was given the legal obligation to provide financial support to his former spouse. This spousal maintenance typically takes the form of a monthly payment that can be used to maintain a certain standard of living. While the specific amount in this case has not been disclosed, it is likely high enough to allow the dependent spouse to maintain her quality of life.

Alimony is often awarded in instances where one spouse stays at home to take care of children while the other spouse works and advances his career. The justification is simple. Had it not been for the stay-at-home spouse, the working spouse would not have been able to advance and make more money. Therefore, the stay-at-home spouse should be entitled to some of the working spouse's money once that money is stripped from the marriage.

Alimony is important because it allows a spouse to pay their living expenses. Without this money, a spouse may be left without any income which in turn can affect the dependent spouse's ability to care for her children.

If a settlement cannot be reached between the two parties, the court will look to certain factors including the length of the marriage, earning capacity of the dependent spouse, and the lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage. A lengthy marriage that ends with the dependent spouse having a considerably lower earning capacity than the other spouse may result in a higher alimony award.

Once an alimony amount is determined, it is not necessarily final. A change in financial circumstances or an inability to pay the amount owed can be grounds for a modification. Divorce is tough enough as is, but fights over alimony can be very difficult. It is important that parties to a divorce have competent attorneys that will fight for what is fair and in their client's best interests.

Source: New York Post, "Yank GM Cashman's divorce finalized," Laurel Babcock, Feb. 6, 2013

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