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Spousal support does not have to threaten your financial security

When it comes to money, no one wants to come out on the other side of divorce in a worse position than they were before. Financial security influences almost every aspect of your life, from where you live to what groceries you can afford. Knowing this, you understandably want to do your very best to preserve your current financial position. However, you still need to factor spousal support into your future plans.

If your spouse stayed home during your marriage, or if you earned more, then you should expect to pay spousal support. Spousal support — also called alimony — is not a single, flat rate for everyone in the state of Alabama. Asking friends or loved ones about what their monthly support payments look like will not give you an accurate picture. Instead, a number of personal factors will help determine your monthly support payments.

When did you get married?

Some people assume that spousal support is always part of divorce no matter what. This is a fairly common misconception, but there are several situations to which support simply does not apply. For example, you probably will not have to pay any support if your marriage only lasted for a few years or so.

If, for some reason, you do have to pay, it will probably be a relatively small amount for only a limited period of time. You could also still be on the hook if you signed a prenuptial agreement that guarantees support to your ex. It might be helpful to figure out if your prenup is actually valid before you start making any payments.

What are your financial situations?

As the person with a higher income, you already know that you will have to pay. But just because you earn more overall does not mean that you do so consistently. Many jobs have variable incomes, especially those that are based on commissions or contract work. Your income from the most recent or your highest-earning year should not determine how much you pay. Instead, it is a good idea to take your average income from a five-year period and go from there.

Your ex’s job situation is also important, especially if he or she was not working. Being out of the job market even temporarily can make it a lot harder to find a well-paying job. Leaving highly competitive, lucrative careers is even more difficult, so both you and your ex’s financial situations will influence how much you pay in alimony.

What if you lose your job?

Most things in life are not permanent, and employment opportunities come and go. However, losing your job can be much more difficult if you are paying spousal support. In Alabama, it is fairly easy to ask the court to modify your support order to reflect your new financial situation. However, you cannot quit your job and then ask for a modification. If you do, you will be out of a job and still have to make your regularly support payments.

Feeling worried about money is normal, especially if you are going through a significant transition in life. You do not have to leave your finances up to chance during a divorce, though. If you are worried that you will end up paying more spousal support than you should, or if your ex is unfairly portraying his or her own finances, you need help. One of the best decisions you can make is to work with an experienced attorney who is dedicated to upholding your rights.