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What Good Is One Dollar of Alimony Per Year?


Permanent alimony is a sore subject for many couples; there is even a movement to abolish permanent alimony completely, reducing the types of alimony that courts can award to five.  Permanent periodic alimony, in which the wealthier spouse pays the recipient spouse alimony each month until one of the parties dies or the recipient spouse remarries, is only an option when the parties were married 17 years or more and when the recipient spouse has very limited earning capacity because of age, health, and lack of work experience.  In rare instances, courts have awarded permanent alimony to people married less than 17 years, but in these instances the recipient spouse was unable to work because of a disability and had no other source of income besides her ex-husband.  Having to pay alimony to your ex-spouse, even as you retire, remarry, help your adult children financially, or face your own financial hardships, can be burdensome.  A South Florida alimony lawyer can help you resolve disputes related to permanent alimony.

When Your Business Tanks Right Before Your Divorce

During most of the time that Steven and Sandra were married, Steven’s dentistry practice prospered, and the family enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle.  He was able to build up substantial savings during this time.  In the last few years before the parties separated, Steven had to take money out of his savings in order to pay the family’s expenses, including the pendente lite support he owed to Sandra while their divorce case was in process, as well as to keep the business running.

By the time the parties’ divorce became final, the value of the marital property was much lower than it had been when they first separated.  Sandra had been out of the workforce for most of the marriage and requested permanent alimony that would keep her at a standard of living similar to what she had enjoyed during the marriage.  Naturally, a dispute arose over what that standard should be, on the basis of which the court could calculate the amount of alimony.  Meanwhile, after funding his business and paying his own expenses, Steven had little money left to pay alimony.

Nominal Alimony: A Temporary Solution

In cases like this, where the recipient spouse obviously needs alimony but the paying spouse cannot afford enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, the courts tend to award a nominal amount of permanent alimony, sometimes as little as one dollar per year.  This is because, once the court orders alimony, it is easy to file a motion to modify the amount if the financial circumstances of one or both parties change.  It is not possible, however, to make your spouse start paying alimony years after the divorce if the court did not initially award it.

Let Us Help You Today

A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you and your ex-spouse reach an agreement about how much alimony, if any, you should pay.  Contact Schwartz | White for help today.



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