Calculating Your Spousal Maintenance Responsibility

maintenance, Aurora divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorce, you may already be aware that spousal maintenance, or alimony, is not a guaranteed right for either spouse. Based on the circumstances of your marriage—and especially if you earn significantly more than your spouse, and he or she has been financially dependent on you—you may expect to be ordered to pay spousal support. You may even be quite willing to make maintenance payments as, even though you no longer wish to remain married, you do not need to see your soon-to-be ex-spouse suffer, particularly if the two of you have children together. While you may be expecting to pay alimony, it is often helpful to get an idea of just how much those payments will be and for how long.

Payment Amounts

Assuming the court agrees that spousal maintenance is needed based on the consideration of a number of factors, the law provides a method for calculating spousal support payments. The most common way is through a statutory formula intended to be used in the vast majority of cases in which the couple’s combined income is less than $250,000, and the paying spouse is not supporting children from a previous relationship or another former spouse. In such a case, the amount to be paid is found by taking 30 percent of the payor’s gross income and subtracting 20 percent of the recipient’s gross income. The amount paid as maintenance plus the recipient’s income may not exceed 40 percent of the couple’s combined income.

Duration of Payments

The law also provides a table for determining how long an order for maintenance is expected to remain in effect. The duration of an order will be the length of the marriage multiplied by a statutory percentage factor, starting at 20 percent for the shortest marriages, up to 100 percent or permanent maintenance for those lasting 20 years more. Longer marriages will result in relatively longer maintenance awards.

Illustrative Example

Assume you make $150,000 per year and your spouse makes $50,000 per year, and you are divorcing after 15 years of marriage. According to the law, the calculation would take 30 percent of your income, or $45,000 and subtract 20 percent of your spouse’s income, or $10,000, leaving a difference of $35,000. When $35,000 is added to your spouse’s income, the total is $85,000, which is more than 40 percent of your combined income. The award would be reduced to $30,000 in accordance with the law.

The duration of your spousal maintenance obligation would be 15 years multiplied by .8—the percentage factor provided in the statute—which equals 12 years.

Skilled Legal Assistance

While the law is fairly straightforward about spousal maintenance considerations in most cases, the court is granted the discretion to deviate from the guidelines if necessary. That is where having an experienced Aurora family law attorney on your side can make a world of difference. If you believe that you are being asked to pay too much based on the circumstances in your life, we can help. Contact the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. today to schedule your confidential consultation.



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