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What income do judges consider when awarding alimony?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2021 | Divorce & High Asset Divorce |

There are various reasons why a husband or wife may request alimony of their spouse when they divorce. It’s most common for this to happen when one of the spouses paused their career to support the other’s career endeavors or care for the home and raise the children.

You may wonder what income judges consider when awarding husbands and wives alimony, especially if your spouse receives income from varied sources. There are several techniques that a judge may employ to ascertain your spouse’s income to ensure you receive a fair alimony award. 

Determining your spouse’s earned income

You can expect the family law judge presiding over your case to first inquire about your spouse’s annual salary when determining a fair alimony award. The court will also likely ask about any carried interest, employment perks, deferred compensation, performance or signing bonuses and partnership distributions that your spouse may be eligible to receive. Family law judges will generally inquire about how much your spouse’s employer contributes to their retirement account, as well. 

Checks for undisclosed income

Judges tend not to want to leave any leaf unturned. The court will often comb through the financial disclosures your spouse made along with their divorce filing. The judge may ask to see your most recent federal tax return to see what income you reported. It’s not uncommon for a judge to ask your spouse about how they afford the lifestyle that they do should their disclosed income on these documents not align with their documented expenses. 

Inquiries about your spouse’s job prospects

The court may inquire about your spouse’s recent change in employment or decision to remain in their current role, especially if it leaves them earning less than they can otherwise command. A judge may base alimony awards in both of these instances on what a spouse should be making instead of what they currently earn.

An attorney can help you determine how much alimony to request during your divorce. This help will minimize the chances that you’ll need a modification in the future.