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Permanent Alimony Is Not A Wealth-Building Strategy


When the courts award permanent alimony, they do not do it as a punishment to the wealthier spouse.  They do it because the financially disadvantaged spouse has little or no opportunity to earn income and does not have enough non-marital assets to support themselves; without alimony, the financially disadvantaged spouse would have to rely on public assistance.  Most recipients of permanent alimony are women who stayed out of the workforce to care for children and other family members during a marriage that lasted 17 or more years.  If the recipient is young enough and healthy enough to do so, the court usually imputes to her the alimony she could earn by working.  Given her limited work experience, that amount is usually low, so she usually still requires alimony from her ex-husband.  By its very nature, permanent alimony does not enrich anyone.  If you are experiencing financial hardship as a payer or recipient of permanent alimony, contact a Boca Raton alimony lawyer.

Permanent Alimony When Both Spouses Have Limited Means

Clickbait headlines that decry the injustice of permanent alimony usually focus on wealthy couples where the ex-spouse whom the court orders to receive permanent alimony is able to work.  For example, the high-profile case of physician Mark Flood and his ex-wife Blake Taylor has turned into a veritable battle of the sexes on social media, but the real issue at stake is whether Taylor is healthy enough to work.  Simply being out of the workforce throughout a long marriage is not, by itself, sufficient cause for a permanent alimony award.  In a precedent-setting case, Nancy requested permanent alimony from her ex-husband Dennis after a 17-year marriage where she had been a stay-at-home parent.  Nancy was in her forties at the time of the divorce, and the court ordered Dennis to pay rehabilitative alimony so Nancy could attend nursing school.  Nancy had never worked as a nurse before, but a vocational expert determined that, upon graduation from nursing school, she could earn enough money not to need alimony.

Some permanent alimony recipients have been able to downsize their standard of living to make the alimony amount awarded in the court decision go further.  For example, Carolyn sold her house in Florida and moved to a less expensive state in anticipation that her ex-husband Douglas would ask the court to reduce the alimony amount when he retired.  When the recipient spouse’s financial need is undeniable but the paying spouse’s ability to pay is uncertain, the court may order the paying spouse to buy a life insurance policy with the recipient spouse as a beneficiary.  The policy amount should be enough to cover alimony obligations, but not more; the recipient spouse should not get a windfall when the paying spouse dies.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

Permanent alimony awards tend to leave all parties feeling slighted, but if your situation calls for permanent alimony, an alimony lawyer can help you and your ex agree on an equitable agreement regarding alimony and distribution of marital property.  Contact Schwartz | White for more information.





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