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Spousal support, high-asset divorce and the marital lifestyle

Spousal support (also referred to as alimony) is a frequent source of contention in an Alabama divorce. This is especially true in cases where the couple had substantial assets and a lifestyle that reflected it. In these relationships, it is common for one side to earn more money than the other. Or they might have been wealthy before the marriage. Knowing how state law views spousal support in this context is important for both sides to achieve an outcome they believe is fair and acceptable.

Rehabilitative and periodic alimony in Alabama

Regardless of whether the court awards rehabilitative or periodic alimony, the court will assess whether the person has a separate estate or a sufficient separate estate to maintain their lifestyle from the marriage. An example might be someone who was married to a successful businessperson and enjoyed a relatively affluent lifestyle in the immediate aftermath of the divorce. They are unlikely to have the assets, income or ability to continue with that lifestyle. Therefore, the support order will need to be enough for them to do so.

Even if the higher earner had major assets and income, it must still be considered whether them paying enough for the other party to maintain their lifestyle will constitute economic hardship. The court will strive for what it deems a fair amount. This applies to both the paying former spouse and the receiving former spouse.

With rehabilitative alimony, the payments will be limited to a maximum of five years. This is designed to help the receiving party acquire the skills and education to maintain their marital lifestyle. It hinges on feasibility and the circumstances. When it is not feasible, fails or the attempt does not pay enough to maintain the lifestyle, periodic alimony will be paid. Various factors will be considered in these cases including individual assets, marital property, liabilities, wage-earning ability, if there are children from the marriage and other issues that the court deems important.

For high-asset spousal support cases, both sides should be protected

The party with fewer assets and less income could have been a stay-at-home spouse, been a homemaker and raised children. This will limit their ability to maintain that lifestyle after a divorce. The spousal support determination and award are expected to address this so they can maintain their standard of living. Understanding how this is handled is key from both perspectives and professional help can be essential.


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