The higher-earning spouse and alimony

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in divorce on Friday, October 21, 2016.

It is common for married couples in Missouri to have disparate incomes. During the course of a marriage, one spouse may take on more of the child care responsibilities while the other spouse pursues a career. Even if a married couple doesn’t have children, one spouse may simply earn a larger income than the other spouse.

When a married couple divorces, the lower-earning spouse could experience a financial setback after losing the financial support of the higher-earning spouse. To compensate for this financial loss, a court may order the higher-earning spouse to make alimony payments for a set period of time or indefinitely. Because most of the assets that are acquired during a marriage are considered marital assets in the eyes of the law, the lower-earning spouse could have equal claim to the marital home and other valuable property that was purchased by the higher-earning spouse.

If a divorcing couple has children, a judge may be more likely to award the marital home to the primary caregiver. However, a divorce settlement may be reached that allows both spouses to split the profits from a sale of the home after the children move out. The spouse who is not living in the marital home may also ask the judge to issue an order barring any other adult from moving into the marital home for a period of time after the divorce.

A family law attorney may be able to represent a higher-earning spouse who is being asked to make unreasonably large alimony payments as part of a divorce settlement. If the lower-earning spouse has earning potential from prior work experience or a college degree, an attorney may argue that alimony payments should only be paid temporarily. An attorney may also be able to help the higher-earning spouse work out an agreement for a one-time lump sum alimony payment.

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