Are you the primary bread winner in your family? Do you worry that if you get a divorce you will have to pay alimony?
Divorce courts often struggle in determining the status of monthly income as it relates to alimony and the value of the marriage estate. This difficulty exists in divorce hearings because the burden of proving the value of marital property rests on both parties. Sometimes, parties may disagree about how much one spouse makes every month. Other times, certain assets may be non-transferable in a divorce setting. This is usually the case when one spouse is the primary breadwinner.
After hearing both sides, a court will reach a determination on the value of the assets. The court will divide up the assets, and may award alimony to a spouse. However, trouble may arise when a court awards an alimony which fails to consider assets lost in the divorce. For instance, imagine a husband is making a sizable amount of his monthly net income from investments in a company. The court awards 100% of the investment in that company to his wife, and then makes the husband pay alimony based on his prior monthly net income. This results in an error. The trial court failed to properly consider the terms of the divorce in setting an alimony.
This issue arose in the case of Whaley v. Whaley. First, the trial court found that the husband was making $7,300 a month, 50% of which came from his investment in a company called K2. The trial court awarded his wife alimony based on his $7,300 a month income, and then awarded the wife 100% of his interest in K2. The appellate court reversed the trial court regarding granting alimony. The appellate court held that the husband would be unable to pay his alimony obligations or even meet his own living expenses under these terms. Second, the trial court erred in transferring 100% of the investment proceeds to the wife, because that number exceeded the husband’s transferable interest in the investment.
The appellate court ruled that the trial court was in error in awarding the wife a $150,000 attorney fees. The trial court required the husband to provide his wife as much for legal expenses as his own. This was also in error, as attorneys are only entitled to fees appropriately based off hours worked.
This case is an example that it’s critical to challenge any alimony fees that are based off your previous monthly income. A court may award alimony lost during the divorce.
If you find yourself or a loved one in such a situation, you should have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney on your side to ensure that you make the best arguments. Contact INGRAM LAW LLC at 205-438-6666 for an attorney with the experience and knowledge that can help.