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Equitable Distribution And Imputed Income In Tough Economic Times


Living beyond one’s means tends to be the rule rather than the exception for couples on the brink of divorce.  In some cases, genuinely unavoidable financial stress contributes to the breakdown of the marriage, and even with both spouses working full time, the household’s expenses exceed its income.  In other cases, the parties spend money in efforts to repair their marriage, such as marriage counseling (which is usually not covered by insurance) or expensive vacations or gifts.  The most financially deleterious situation is when the parties retaliate against each other for making unapproved purchases with even more unapproved purchases; she is mad that he bought a motorcycle, so she buys an expensive handbag, and so on.  If you think your spouse is pressuring you to reduce your expenses, it is even worse when the court tells you that the party is over.  It is the court’s only option; it cannot divide marital assets that do not exist.  Even though many divorce decisions require both parties to scale back their spending, the laws of equitable distribution require the court to impose the burden of reverse lifestyle creep on each spouse in the fairest proportions possible.  If you think that your alimony obligations, your imputed income, or your share of marital debt as indicated by your divorce judgment is unfair, contact a Palm Beach County divorce lawyer.

Divorce Court Delivers Reality Check to Corporate Lawyer and His Socialite Ex-Wife

When Michael and Elizabeth married in 1986, he was working as a corporate law attorney, and he made many professional connections.  These enabled him to leave his law firm in 1996 to accept a lucrative C-suite position at a moving and storage company.  Elizabeth did not hold full-time employment during the marriage, before or after the parties’ three children were born.  Instead, she held a series of volunteer and part-time positions, including organizing charity auctions and volunteering at an art museum.  The family maintained an active social life; they were members of a country club, and their children attended a private school.

The parties filed for divorce in 2008, during the economic downturn; around the same time, Michael’s corporate job laid him off, and he went back to work at the law firm, albeit for a much lower salary.  When the divorce became final, the court ordered the sale of the couple’s $1.4 million waterfront house, the proceeds from which the parties were to divide; it also determined that Elizabeth must return to full-time work, and it imputed an annual income of $40,000 to her.  Since, even with a reduction in both parties’ spending, she would still need additional support, the court ordered $50.00 per month in permanent alimony; implicit in this decision is that the court could modify the amount if the parties’ financial situation were to change.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you divide your marital assets in a way that takes into account the fact that both parties participated in a lavish lifestyle during the marriage and that neither party can afford one after the divorce.  Contact Schwartz | White for a consultation on your case.



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