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Alimony Awarded More Than Spouse's Income


If you are thinking about divorce, there is a lot that plays a role in whether alimony is awarded and how much. The idea of alimony is simple. The spouse that is asking for alimony must show that without the alimony, they could not keep up their standard of living from during the marriage. Even with this, though, the other spouse must be able to pay it.

Imagine you are filing a divorce. You have been married ten years, and during that time you have not been working. Your spouse, on the other hand, was working when you got married. Now, though, your spouse is retired and making a fraction of what they were making before. You are supposed to keep up your standard of living, but where does the money come from?

In the recent case of Meehan v. Meehan, the wife was awarded $5,000 a month in alimony for five years, and $2,500 per month after. However, the husband’s income was only $4,057 per month. That said, the husband had just recently retired. He had a wide range of property including land, a trust fund for their children, and retirement accounts from working.

So, with all those assets, it might seem that there would not be an issue. The husband’s retirement accounts alone would have given him at least another $5,000 per month in income. However, the law in Alabama says that the court cannot count income from retirement accounts for periodic alimony until the spouse starts drawing from it. Since the husband had not started using his retirement accounts, the court had to act like the account did not exist.

Even without considering the husbands’ retirement accounts, the wife argued that the court should look at a financial account that contained $255,000 of the husband’s money. The husband had used the financial account several times over the previous year to pay expenses keeping up a pair of lots. Because of that, the trial court felt comfortable that the husband could pay the alimony.

On appeal, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals agreed with the trial court. The husband argued that they should look at the amount of the award compared to his income as showing that the trial court looked at his retirement accounts in error. However, the appeals court noted that they give a great deal of weight to the trial court’s decisions about the facts. The trial court found that the husband could pay and there was evidence supporting it. As a result, the appeals court found they must agree with the trial court.

If you are involved in a divorce, you might want to consider the strength of the evidence and the best way to present it. It is important to be represented by an attorney with experience in divorce proceedings. Finding the best outcome for your case could always use a helpful hand.

If you are involved in or considering a divorce, please call INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 335-2640.

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