Why A Lawyer Is Important During Alimony Discussions

21 April 2015
 Categories: Law, Articles

Divorces can bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to figuring out child support and alimony payments. It's not unusual, for example, for a spouse to decide to quit work or to take a lower paying job in order to pay fewer dollars to their soon-to-be exes.  And in some cases, a spouse may demand that a homemaker who has not been employed outside of the house to get a job in order to help pay for themselves. If you are in one of these situations, it is important to seek legal counsel as they can best present your case to a court.

Imputing Income to Your Spouse

If your spouse has decided to quit their job or to take a lower paying job in order to pay you less money in alimony, your lawyer might decide to hire an expert witness, such as an occupational or vocational expert, to determine their employability and their true earning capacity. By looking at a person's educational background and past employment history, an occupational expert can give a judge an idea of the type of job and potential income level your spouse could possibly obtain. Of course, there may be mitigating circumstances that could actually be preventing your spouse from being employed at their full earning capacity, such as:

  • An illness
  • A difficult job market

However, if your lawyer is able to prove to the judge that your spouse is purposefully underemployed, the court can then decide to impute income to them. This means that when the judge goes to determine your alimony payments, they could base them on your spouse's earning capacity rather than on their actual current salary.

Your Earning Capacity

If you have been a stay-at-home parent, your spouse may demand that you get a job in order to reduce their alimony payments. In this case, your spouse's lawyer may hire an expert to determine what your actual earning capacity will be. The lawyer will use your past employment history and educational background to determine your current employability and ability to earn a living.  Even if you have been working full- or part-time, your spouse's lawyer may be able to convince the judge that you could be making more money in another job. That is why it's important to have an experienced lawyer on your side who could present evidence as to why you may already be earning a salary at your full capacity. For example, your spouse's attorney may say that:

  • You need to quit your current job in order to find a higher-paying position. But your lawyer may be able to prove that your present job is better for you because of its retirement benefits.
  • You are not actively searching for jobs that can pay you better. But your attorney may be able to prove that jobs in your field are scarce and that you have been searching for positions to no avail. 

Rehabilitative Alimony

It is also possible that your attorney may be able to convince the judge that you need temporary alimony from your spouse in order to improve your skills and your employability. This alimony is sometimes referred to as rehabilitative alimony. If you are given this type of alimony, you may then be able to attend classes in order to obtain a degree or to receive training.

You might also receive this type of alimony if you just need time to find a position in your desired field of employment.

Hiring a Lawyer

When it comes to receiving the best alimony payments for your situation, it is important to have an experienced lawyer from a site like http://www.madisonlf.com on your side. Failing to get help could cause you to get much less money than you deserve or need to survive on.