Key Variables in Alimony

Richmond Family LawyerAlimony is calculated based on a number of important factors.

The Couple’s Standard of Living
One of the major factors in calculating alimony is the standard of living that the couple possessed while they were still married. Ideally, you and your Richmond family attorney will wish for your standard of living to remain relatively unchanged both prior to and subsequent to your divorce. If you were accustomed to a very high standard, it follows logically that the alimony payment should be correspondingly high. However, this can be difficult.

The Problem
As many economists and your family attorney can point out, once you and your spouse have divorced you are no longer a single household. The replication of a high standard of living in two households may be prohibitively costly compared to having to support only one. An alimony payment sufficient to support such as standard may not be economically feasible.

Economies of Scale
In a divorce situation, living expenses are multiplied by two due to the separation of the households. This, as your family attorney may remind you, can mean that it may become impossible for divorcing spouses to maintain their former economic status even if they divide their combined earnings in an equitable fashion.

Keeping the House
Stipulating a high alimony amount in order to retain ownership of the home might be possible if the couple’s income and assets permit. However, your Richmond family lawyer can attest that for most people this is not the case. Often the couple’s combined income was just enough to cover their combined living and residential expenses. It may not be reasonable to expect a single person to continue to meet these expenses or provide an alimony payment sufficient to enable the spouse to do so.

Thus, while it may be possible to accommodate a high standard of living in some cases, your family lawyer is unlikely to encourage you to consider this the primary basis on which to set an alimony figure. It is a contributing factor—not the deciding factor.

Taxation
An experienced lawyer can advise you that the spouse who is paying alimony can normally deduct these payments when calculating his/her income taxes. While they are a deduction from the income of the spouse making the payments, they are an augmentation to the income of the spouse receiving them. This can cause changes in tax bracket status for both spouses – higher for the receiving spouse and lower for the paying spouse. 

A Point to Consider
Since the paying spouse’s tax bracket can drop, this may increase his/her willingness to make the payments. Due to this circumstance, your family lawyer may advise you to consider taxation as a serious factor as you and your spouse work to determine the level of alimony that is to be paid.