Sometimes we’re asked if a receiving party is getting enough spousal support. While there is a lot of gray area to this part of the law, here are a few things to consider.
Do Both People Have Enough Money to Live On?
At a high level, the first thing to look at is whether or not one party is struggling to make ends meet. If one person is living very comfortably while the other is having to live with roommates, eat rice and beans, and can’t afford a car then there’s some kind of issue.
This can happen both ways. Sometimes the person receiving alimony is taking a huge chunk of the payor’s income. After taxes and paying alimony, it may be the payor just doesn’t have much money left. When this happens, the alimony granted was likely too high.
On the flip side, sometimes the awarded alimony is too low. You see this if the recipient is struggling to live even a modest lifestyle, while the payor is doing okay.
Seems simple, right? But these are nebulous, subjective terms. Not everyone agrees on what is considered a fair amount of money to live on. Plus, think about income changes.
One Person’s Income Changed – Does that Affect Spousal Support?
Another factor going into if someone is getting enough alimony is when income changes.
For example, let’s say the recipient goes back to school, gets an education and lands a great job. Now their income is enough to sustain themselves, so they don’t necessarily need alimony. In that case, spousal support may be lowered or eliminated.
On the other hand, what if the income of the payor changes? Usually if their income goes up, it doesn’t lead to an increase in alimony unless it was too low to begin with. Likewise if their income goes down, it won’t lead to a decrease. For example if someone making $200K quits their job to make $50K at a startup, the judge will probably tell them to find a way to pay the same alimony as before. The recipient needs that alimony for their lifestyle, and just because the payor wanted to switch careers doesn’t mean they can pay less alimony.
Other Factors that Come Into Play
There is more than the income factor that comes into play with spousal support. Here are the main ones, along with a short explanation of each.
Length of marriage – How long was the couple married? A marriage that only lasted 2-3 years may not lead to any alimony at all.
Age and health of spouses – Are they both young and healthy, able to care for themselves? Or are they older and have rising healthcare bills?
Marriage roles – Did both spouses work? Or did one stay home to raise the kids and lost career opportunities?
Are you getting enough spousal support? It’s difficult to say without an understanding of your lifestyle during the marriage compared to now. We also would need to look at several factors such as the ones we referenced above. But if you don’t think you were awarded enough, reach out at 714.456.9118 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do to help.