Alimony is one of the most contentious issues in any Utah divorce.
Everyone hates paying alimony. Men hate paying it. Women hate paying it even more.
And yet, paying alimony is so often necessary to keep one spouse from being left completely destitute.
With that in mind, and if you are the spouse that needs alimony, how can you maximize your chance of getting alimony?
Getting Alimony 101 — Why Alimony?
Alimony is paid for one of two primary reasons:
1. To make sure a spouse isn’t left destitute and on welfare after a divorce.
2. To help a spouse maintain the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage.
Most of the time, we’re not worried about welfare so much as ensuring a spouse can maintain the marital standard of living, or as close to it as possible.
That brings up the question: how do you figure out the marital standard of living?
Getting Alimony 101 — Determining the Marital Standard of Living
The marital standard of living is, essentially, what you spent on a monthly basis during your marriage.
And by “spent” I mean everything you spent money on, e.g.: mortgage/rent, utilities, medications, insurance, holidays, vacations, clothes, food, school supplies, dance classes, soccer dues, retirement savings, etc.
If, on average, as a family you spent $5000 per month, including your 401(k) contributions, that’s your marital standard of living.
And if you spent, on average, $10,000, but only made $8000, a fairly regular occurrence, then the marital standard of living is $10,000. (You’ll also have a massive amount of debt to pay, along with that bloated standard of living.)
Oh, and the marital standard of living is usually taken at the time you and your spouse separated (e.g., when someone moves out, or when someone files for divorce).
So, the first thing you should do to get alimony is: put together all your expenditures (debts included) and determine your marital standard of living. Get as many receipts/statements as you can to prove your numbers.
Make sure you include everything. The higher your marital standard of living, the more likely you’ll get alimony.
Getting Alimony 101 — Figuring Out Incomes
The next step is to figure out each spouse’s income.
Specifically, the second thing you should do is: get your pay stubs, get your spouse’s pay stubs, get your tax returns (at least three years), and then sit down and figure out what everyone makes individually.
Keep the pay stubs and taxes handy.
Getting Alimony 101 — Giving Everything to Your Attorney
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they want alimony is that they don’t get all the information to their attorney.
Hint: if your attorney doesn’t have all the info you have, you’re not going to get the alimony you deserve.
So, the third thing you should do to get alimony is: put together all the marital standard of living receipts/statements, and the paystubs and tax returns, and bring them to the first meeting with your attorney.
The better prepared you are, the more alimony you’re likely to get.
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