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Alimony Myths (and the Truth Behind Them)

Alimony’s popularity as an element of divorce or separation agreements has risen and fallen over the decades, and the law prescribing its use is now in the process of undergoing change.  Perhaps these uncertain elements contribute to the existence of several myths concerning alimony, its use, its purpose, and the factors contributing to an alimony determination.  If you are approaching a divorce or separation, it is wise to be aware of common alimony myths as well as the truth behind them.  Here are some of the most common myths, along with their realities.

Myth 1: Alimony Is an Entitlement

While there have been periods of time in years past when alimony was virtually guaranteed, that is certainly no longer the case.  Alimony must be requested, and a judge must grant the request in order for alimony or spousal support to be part of the divorce agreement.

Myth 2: Alimony Is for Life

Not only has lifelong (called “permanent”) alimony become much less common in recent years, but Florida legislators are considering doing away with it entirely.  The length of time for alimony payments will be determined by a variety of factors, largely based around one’s ability to earn a living, which will be considered by a judge.

Myth 3: If My Spouse Abused or Cheated on Me, I Will Receive Alimony

Florida is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that no person seeking a dissolution of his or her marriage needs to provide a justification or demonstrate the other partner is at fault for the failure of the marriage.  Therefore, courts are less likely to consider where blame falls, but they are not prohibited from doing so.

Myth 4: Alimony Is Money with No Strings Attached

Alimony payments, in fact, come with a great deal of regulations.  Alimony can be taxed, but also may be tax-deductible to the payer.  Additionally, judges are becoming increasingly more interested in ensuring that the recipient of alimony uses the money to transition into a self-sufficient position, rather than as a substitute for working or a method of improving one’s standard of living.

Myth 5: Alimony Is a Monthly Check

Actually, alimony payments can be made in a variety of ways now, and it is even possible for alimony payers to pay their spousal support obligation in a single lump sum (or a series of lump sums).  Those involved in an alimony agreement should become aware of all possible payment methods to select one that best suits both parties’ needs.

Myth 6: My Age/Gender/etc. Will Not Influence the Judge’s Decision

Judges consider age, and may still consider gender (though doing so is becoming rarer and more unpopular) and other physical characteristics.  Age, in particular, is relevant from a judge’s perspective because it can affect an individual’s ability to get a job and to reenter the workforce, as well as an individual’s ability to change vocations.

Myth 7: I Can Negotiate Alimony on My Own

Maybe.  But why risk it?  Alimony decisions affect your standard of living, tax status, finances, and family.  Make those decisions with a professional at your side.  At Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, our experienced attorneys can help you navigate an alimony determination. Call 561-391-9943 for a consultation today.

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