divorced man filing for bankruptcy

Does Filing Bankruptcy Impact Alimony Obligations?

Divorce and financial struggles often go hand in hand on multiple levels. On one level, financial issues are often cited as some of the more prominent reasons for seeking a divorce in the first place. On another level, divorce can exacerbate or lead to financial difficulties, particularly when the fiscal adjustment that comes with divorce is not planned for. With the fact that many find the financial transition after divorce to be a struggle, you may be worried about your former spouse’s continuing ability to meet his or her alimony payment obligations to you. What if your former spouse’s financial situation gets to the point where he or she seeks bankruptcy? Will that impact alimony obligations?

Does Filing Bankruptcy Impact Alimony Obligations?

First, it is important to make clear that back alimony payments, like child support, are not considered to be dischargeable debts in bankruptcy. Once the alimony payment obligation arises, it will continue and bankruptcy cannot be used as a mechanism to clear such an obligation. While bankruptcy may not be used in such a way, however, bankruptcy can be useful to a person struggling financially who may be in arrears of alimony or child support payments. You see, bankruptcy can either discharge other outstanding debt obligations or consolidate debt obligations into a manageable monthly payment. This frees up resources or enables a debtor to better meet and prioritize paying off financial obligations such as alimony.

It is also important to note that terminating alimony or modifying alimony is not within the purview of the bankruptcy court. Filing bankruptcy will not, in and of itself, lead to termination or modification of an alimony award as that is not the role of the bankruptcy court. Nor does it mean that alimony will end up being modified or terminated in family court simply because your former spouse filed for bankruptcy.

While bankruptcy may not merit modification of an alimony award, however, events leading a person to seek bankruptcy may justify a court’s modification of an alimony award. In Florida, the law allows for an alimony award to be modified or terminated in the event of an unexpected, involuntary, and substantial change in circumstances that impacts a former spouse’s ability to make alimony payments. For instance, a job loss could both lead to a former spouse filing for bankruptcy and also justify modification of an alimony award. That is for the family court or child support hearing officer to decide. Your former spouse would, however, have to specifically seek out such a modification. Filing for bankruptcy alone will not mean the alimony award will be impacted.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Unfortunately, the complications do not always end after the divorce decree. If you are having problems with alimony, child support, or other family law issues, the trusted team at Orlando Family Team is here to provide you with continuing legal support. We are here for you and your family every step of the way. Contact us today.

alimony

Can You Waive Your Right to Alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, can be an important part of the foundation on which you build your new life after divorce. The financial transition going from a two-income house down to a one-income house can be jarring. This can be even more true if your spouse was the sole breadwinner. Now you must find a job and your footing, along with possibly needing more training or education to get a job that will support your costs of living. In some cases, alimony awarded is only temporary so that a person has financial support when pursuing employment opportunities post-divorce. Other times, it is permanent in order to provide a person with the support needed to maintain the lifestyle that was enjoyed during the marriage. In any case, alimony can be critical in post-divorce life. Still, some people opt to waive their right to alimony for several reasons. Does Florida allow for this?

Can You Waive Your Right to Alimony?

Yes, in Florida, you can waive your right to pursue alimony. Since Florida courts recognize how important alimony can be, however, this right is limited. For instance, the right to receive temporary alimony and seek attorney’s fees while your divorce is pending cannot be waived. Other kinds of alimony, however, can be waived in a few different ways.

First, you can waive your right to alimony in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. While this is not an uncommon practice, entering into an agreement that waives your right to alimony before or at an earlier point in your marriage should be thoughtfully considered. At that point, there are many unknowns. You do not know how long you will be married. Will it be a long-term marriage? Short-term marriage? Moderate marriage? You do not know if you will keep your job and stay employed. Will you have children? You will not know what your earning capacity may look at the point where your marriage may end. These are things that can have significant impacts on whether you will want and need alimony, but you will be asked to waive your right to alimony before all these things become realities.

You can also waive your right to alimony in a separation agreement or divorce settlement agreement. Again, however, there are still unknowns. At this point, however, the unknowns are due in large part to the fact that alimony calculations are not made with some set formula. There are a few factors that will be weighed in rendering a decision on an alimony award, but it can still be difficult to discern the value of what you are giving up because there is no clear-cut calculation to be made before you waive your right to alimony. Should you be considering waiving your right to pursue alimony through a separation or divorce agreement, consider first looking at the specifics of your circumstances to get an idea of what kind of alimony award you may receive should you not waive this right. You can use this as leverage when addressing other issues incident to divorce. Consider using it wisely.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Alimony, much like divorce in general, can be emotionally charged, but also very important to handle the right way. The dedicated divorce team at Orlando Family Team is here to provide you with continuing legal support throughout the process. Contact us today.

man going bankrupt from alimony

If My Ex Goes Bankrupt, Will I Still Get Alimony?

Alimony, also referred to as “spousal support,” is court-ordered payments from one spouse to the other spouse after divorce or separation has occurred. Essentially, alimony is ordered in the event that one spouse needs such funds to maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the other spouse has the ability to make such payments. Unfortunately, however, experiencing financial problems after divorce is common. The shift from a two-income household to a one-income household, carrying the whole burden of monthly costs, can be jarring and the adjustment can be difficult. What happens, however, should the payor spouse experience such financial difficulties after divorce that bankruptcy becomes necessary? Will alimony payments be impacted? Will alimony payments end? Let us take a look in more detail at the answer to these important questions.

If My Ex Goes Bankrupt, Will I Still Get Alimony?

Generally speaking, a spouse will still be required to pay alimony even in the event of bankruptcy. Domestic support obligations are not usually discharged in bankruptcy. Discharged means the cancellation of forgiveness of a debt. A domestic support obligation refers to debt and interest on such debt that is owed to certain parties, including:

  • Spouse
  • Former spouse
  • Child of the debtor or the child’s parent or legal guardian

Support ordered under a separation agreement or divorce decree is considered to be a domestic support obligation.

While bankruptcy may not discharge alimony payments, there may be other impacts of a bankruptcy on an alimony award or payments. For instance, an automatic stay enforced as a result of filing for bankruptcy may impact a person’s obligation to pay an alimony award while bankruptcy is pending. When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put on outstanding debt payments and efforts of creditors to collect on outstanding debt. There are, however, exceptions to the automatic stay that is in effect when bankruptcy is filed. For instance, a legal action related to alimony payments will be an exception. If the non-filing spouse is seeking the distribution of property that falls outside of the bankruptcy estate, the automatic stay does not prohibit bringing a civil or domestic relations case against the filing spouse. Furthermore, if the filing spouse has income that is withheld to meet domestic support obligations ordered by a court or another authorized agency, such withholding will proceed even in the event of a bankruptcy filing as an automatic stay will not be applicable in stopping wage garnishment going towards the payment of domestic support obligations.

A bankruptcy filing may, however, impact the potential for any modification of an alimony obligation. While alimony may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, this does not mean that you will receive the same alimony payments as you did before your former spouse filed for bankruptcy. The majority of states will allow for the modification of an alimony award should the payor spouse file for bankruptcy.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

For more information on alimony and modification of alimony, talk to the knowledgeable team of divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team. Contact us today.

divorce court case

Can I Request Alimony After Divorce Proceedings Are Complete?

Even when divorce is for the best, it can make a person feel as though their whole life has turned upside down. Going from a two-person income household to two different one-person income households can also be a significant financial change for both former spouses. If a divorce was somewhat rushed and a spouse failed to really consider the financial situation he or she would be in after the divorce, or there was a substantial change in financial situations for a spouse after divorce for some other reason, that spouse may wish to revisit the alimony issue even after the divorce has been finalized. Is this, however, even possible?

Can I Request Alimony After Divorce Proceedings Are Complete?

Alimony, or spousal support, is a payment one former spouse makes to another former spouse in order to ease the notable, and often negative, impact on financial health that can come with divorce. Spouses may have built a life around a certain two-person household dynamic. For instance, one parent may have chosen to stay at home with the kids, forego professional opportunities, while the other spouse rose through the job ranks. Alimony helps to account for the two different income potential opportunities such spouses find themselves in after the divorce.

Alimony is one of the issues addressed in divorce proceedings. Sometimes, the spouses will come to their own agreement on alimony and the judge will more often than not approve the agreement and include it in the final order of divorce. Without an agreement, the court will address the issue of alimony. While the alimony issue is settled, in some sense, during divorce proceedings, it can be revisited later on. This, however, will require a spouse to show that he or she has experienced a change in circumstances that would merit revisiting the issue.

It is important to note, however, that you will not be able to seek a modification of an alimony order unless there is an alimony order in place. If you waived alimony or if the court did not award any alimony, the issue cannot and will not be revisited later on. This is why the divorce orders for some couples include even just a nominal amount of an alimony award. The nominal amount acts as a kind of placeholder. It keeps the door open on the possibility of revisiting and modifying the award after the divorce has been finalized. Both potential payor spouses and payee spouses should be aware of this possibility before agreeing to even a nominal alimony award as part of finalizing a divorce. That nominal amount can be modified later on should a spouse experience a change of circumstances that would merit such modification.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Protecting and taking steps to protect your financial future after divorce can be a critical element of the process that is overlooked far too often. Talk to the dedicated divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team about your options. Contact us today.

alimony

Are Alimony Payments I Receive Taxable Income?

When you are going through a divorce, there can be so many moving parts that it can all feel overwhelming. The issues addressed in divorce proceedings can also have significant impacts on your life in ways you may not have first considered. Even the seemingly smallest details will still need to be accounted for and questions will continue to arise that you may not have thought about before. For instance, are you receiving alimony payments from your former spouse? Do you know the tax consequences of such payments? Here, we will discuss in more detail whether you need to claim these alimony payments as taxable income.

Are Alimony Payments I Receive Taxable Income?

In the 2019 tax year, the rules regarding reporting alimony payments on personal tax returns changed. Previously, alimony payments were tax-deductible, however, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changed this. Alimony is reportable income whereas there used to be an alimony deduction. Pursuant to the TCJA, the elimination of the alimony deduction will stand from 2019 through 2025 for the majority of divorce decrees entered during that time frame, unless Congress makes changes to this piece of legislation. Congress may attempt to extend the provision eliminating the alimony deduction or revert things to a time when there was an allowable deduction for alimony. As it stands now, however, alimony payments you receive are considered taxable income and must be reported as such on your tax return.

It can be important to note, however, that alimony received can still be deductible if your divorce decree was entered into in 2018 or prior. Furthermore, if your divorce decree was entered into in 2018 or prior, but was modified any time after December of 2018, the repeal of the alimony deduction will apply to the modification. For divorce decrees entered into or modified after 2018, receipt of alimony is a taxable event. The payer, however, is permitted to take a deduction for the payment of alimony should certain requirements be met.

To report alimony as income on your tax return, enter the full amount received on line 2a of Form 1040. It can be important to note that alimony can include those payments you received when you were legally separate, but prior to the final divorce decree being entered. If you failed to properly account for alimony payments received as taxable income, you may still have the ability to go back and amend your tax return for 2018 or 2019. Taxpayers are usually permitted to amend a return up to three years from the date of filing the original return. Should you have paid taxes on a return, however, and done so on a date different from when you filed your taxes, you only have two dates from the date of payment or three years from the date of filing, whichever is the later date.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, our dedicated team can help not only walk you through the divorce process but also counsel you on some of the effects of divorce you may feel well after proceedings have come to an end. Contact us today.

alimony

What Is an Alimony Waiver?

Alimony is one of the central issues that need to be addressed during the divorce process. In Florida, alimony is calculated based on a variety of factors that can impact the financial needs of a spouse, such as the length of the marriage and the relative earning capacity of both spouses. Sometimes, a court will determine that there is no need for an alimony award. Should a court decide that alimony should be awarded in a particular case, it may award alimony that will suit the recipient’s needs as well as be a manageable payment for the payor spouse. Rehabilitative, bridge-the-gap, durational, or permanent alimony are all different alimony types that may be awarded. Alimony can be an extremely contentious issue in a divorce and, for a variety of reasons, a person may wish to waive any right he or she may have to alimony. Is this possible?

What Is an Alimony Waiver?

The alimony analysis in divorce proceedings can be stressful and emotional. The court will need to determine if alimony is appropriate. If alimony is appropriate, the court will need to determine what type of alimony to award, the amount of alimony to award, and the duration of the alimony to award. The court will do so based on a number of factors including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The income and assets of each spouse
  • The employability of each spouse
  • The level of education of each spouse
  • The work experience of each spouse
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • The relative age and health of each spouse
  • The financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse during the marriage

If you are going through a divorce or planning to divorce in the new future, you may have considered the alimony issue. Sometimes, a spouse may have a stable source of income and be ready to cut all ties with a spouse. For whatever reason, you may not want to receive alimony. If this is the case, Florida does permit the waiver of the right to receive alimony. This can be done in either a prenuptial agreement or a divorce settlement agreement.

You should know, however, that you are not permitted to waive your right to temporary alimony nor are you able to waive your right to have your spouse cover your lawyer fees while the divorce is pending. This is due to the fact that courts recognize the financial impact divorce and going through a divorce can have on a person, even when that person cannot see the struggle themselves.

Before you waive your right to receive alimony, however, consider the purpose of alimony. Alimony is intended to help stabilize the financial position of a spouse that may have made notable career sacrifices in order to address other household needs. Finding financial footing after you have built your financial needs around your marriage and a two-person household can be extremely difficult. 

Florida Family Law Attorneys

The issues addressed during divorce proceedings can have long-lasting and severe impacts on your financial well-being. Do not waive alimony or make other major financial decisions in a divorce without first reviewing your options and discussing them with a trusted divorce attorney. The dedicated family law team at Orlando Family Team is here to protect your best interests before a divorce, during a divorce, and beyond. Contact us today.

Woman receiving money from her alimony agreement.

What Types of Alimony Are Available in Florida?

If you are in the midst of divorce, you may have concerns about whether you will have to pay alimony. Also referred to as “spousal maintenance,” alimony is money that one former spouse pays to the other former spouse. Usually, it is financial support that the spouse with the greater income pays to the lower-earning spouse. Alimony tends to be one of the more contentious issues that must be addressed during divorce proceedings. While the parties are free to reach their own agreement regarding alimony, this is not always possible as things can quickly become heated. In that case, the court will decide on which type of alimony will apply and the amount of each payment as well as the duration of the alimony payments.

Types of Alimony in Florida

Depending on the type of alimony ordered, payments may begin during the couple’s separation period, before the divorce is finalized. Payments may stop when the divorce is finalized, soon thereafter, or continue farther into the future. Here are the different types of alimony that are available under Florida law:

  • Temporary Alimony: This is the alimony type awarded while a divorce is still pending. It is intended to provide financial support to one spouse during the divorce process. While temporary alimony automatically terminates upon the finalizing of the divorce, the spouse may go on to receive another type of alimony afterwards.
  • Bridge-the-gap Alimony: While short term in length, this type of alimony is only intended to support the recipient spouse while he or she makes the transition to post-support life. You can only receive bridge-the-gap alimony for a maximum of two years. It is intended to help meet legitimate and identifiable short-term needs such as securing housing, furnishing new housing, or paying utilities. Should it be deemed necessary, the court can award additional kinds of alimony to the spouse receiving bridge-the-gap alimony.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is intended to help one spouse become self-sufficient after divorce. The alimony payments are to go towards things like job training or education in order for the spouse to secure gainful employment. A person requesting rehabilitative alimony must submit a plan which sets forth the time and money required to reach his or her goals.
  • Durational Alimony:  Generally only applicable for marriages considered to be long or moderate in time length, durational alimony is awarded when there is not a need for financial support on a permanent basis, but for a time longer than that provided by the other types of alimony available. The length of time and amount of payments for durational alimony will be granted on a case by case basis with the judge considering things such as the earning capacities of each spouse and the standard of living that was established during the marriage.
  • Permanent Alimony: Should the court determine that a spouse will need financial support indefinitely, an award for permanent alimony may be granted. There must, however, be identifiable reasons why the court believes that a spouse’s situation merits permanent financial support. The judge must state as such in the final order.

Florida Family Law Attorneys

Alimony is one of several big issues that will be determined during the divorce process. The financial consequences of paying or receiving/not receiving alimony can be substantial. The dedicated divorce attorneys at Orlando Family Team are here to advocate for your best interests during all aspects of divorce. Contact us today.

Divorce agreement with coins, representing alimony.

What Can I Do If My Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?

During divorce proceedings, a spouse may be awarded alimony if he or she earned substantially less than the other spouse during the marriage. In the alternative, a spouse may be awarded alimony if he or she is leaving the marriage at a financial disadvantage and requires monetary support to move forward. 

Alimony is awarded with the intent to balance the financial status of each spouse after divorce. It is intended to promote financial stability after the two parties have separated. Spouses are awarded alimony because the court sees a financial inequity and/or a financial need that must be filled. When the spouse ordered to pay alimony stops paying alimony, the spouse who is supposed to be receiving alimony payments can feel serious financial impacts. If your spouse has stopped paying court-ordered alimony, you have legal options.

What Can I Do If My Spouse Stops Paying Alimony?

First, the reason for a spouse failing to make required alimony payments is relevant to what can be done. If the paying spouse fails to make timely alimony payments or make alimony payments in the full amount ordered by the court, but the failure to pay was due to an inability pay, the court will follow a different course of action than if it was a willful or intentional failure to pay. A paying spouse may be suffering financially for a number of different reasons. There may have been a sudden job loss or illness resulting in substantial medical bills and the inability to work. 

The burden is on the paying spouse to request a modification of an alimony award from the court if he or she is unable to make the court-ordered alimony payment. If the paying spouse fails to do so, you can file a Motion for Contempt with the court. The court will most likely either order your former spouse to seek modification of the alimony award or, if the lack of payment is due to job loss, may order your former spouse to seek employment through the Florida State Employment Services.

If your spouse has consistently failed to make timely alimony payments or to make the payments in the full amount as ordered by the court, you can file a Motion for Contempt with the court. Some paying spouses don’t pay alimony because they are looking to punish a former spouse or they think the alimony award is unfair. Either way, if the nonpayment is willful and intentional, the court can find the spouse in contempt of court for violating a court order. You must be able to show the court that the paying spouse has the ability to pay the court-ordered alimony award. 

If it is found that the paying spouse has the ability to pay and willfully and intentionally failed to make the payments, then the court has wide discretion in determining the proper punishment and enforcement mechanism. The court may enter a criminal contempt order that will have criminal penalties. The court may order that the unpaid alimony be withdrawn from the paying spouse’s financial estate. Additionally, the court may order wage garnishment. With wage garnishment, the paying spouse will have the alimony withdrawn from his or her wages in order to ensure that the receiving spouse gets the ordered alimony payments.

Florida Divorce Attorneys

At Orlando Family Team, our divorce attorneys are here to help. We help with all matters related to divorce, whether you are considering a divorce, in the midst of divorce proceedings, or are post-divorce and having issues related to things like alimony or child support. Contact us today.

 

Orlando Family Team discusses the current efforts for alimony reform in Florida.

The Fight for Alimony Reform in Florida

One of the most hotly contested issues in a divorce is alimony. Alimony is paid by one spouse to the other spouse during the divorce process or for a period of time after the divorce is finalized. It is usually required of the higher earner to pay the spouse who is the lower earner in order for him or her to maintain a lifestyle similar to the one that was had during the divorce.

Temporary alimony is paid while the divorce is pending and one spouse requires continued financial support during the proceedings. Temporary alimony ends when the divorce is finalized. There is also bridge-the-gap alimony that starts when the divorce becomes final but is short term. The maximum time frame for bridge-the-gap alimony to be paid is two years. Additionally, rehabilitative alimony may be ordered in some cases. It has the specific purpose of helping the recipient spouse get the necessary training and education to obtain gainful employment. Also, durational alimony is an option. This type of alimony is awarded when the other types of alimony will not be sufficient to meet the needs of the spouse.

There is also permanent alimony. The intention of permanent alimony is to financially provide for a spouse who lacks the ability to become self-supporting and live at a standard at least closely comparable to that which was had during the marriage. Permanent alimony has come under fire in recent years and many have been fighting it. Various Florida advocacy groups have taken up the cause of either fighting to maintain or fighting to get rid of permanent alimony.

Alimony Reform: Eliminating Permanent Alimony

The Florida Family Law PAC is mostly comprised of those who pay alimony along with their second wives. They are fighting for legislation that would eliminate permanent alimony as well as introduce guidelines to spousal support that would function much like child support guidelines in the child support calculation. The group asserts that alimony based on one spouse’s needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay is the cause of substantial inconsistency in the result. Furthermore, the higher-earning spouse can also be ordered to pay for attorneys’ fees for both sides on top of an alimony payment obligation that extends beyond retirement.

The Florida Family Law PAC further reminds the public that judges paid with taxpayer money are spending their days resolving alimony disputes related to missed payments, among other things. These disputes can go on for years and end up exhausting the bank accounts of all parties. Additionally, alimony enforcement is limited, which means that so people are in arrears of substantial amounts. A spouse will stop paying and the other will be forced into debt.

If Florida eventually decides to adopt an alimony formula, it will not be the first state to do so. Other states have adopted formulas that include such factors as the length of the marriage and the difference between the income levels of the spouses. Furthermore, Indiana has limited spousal support in most cases to three years. Massachusetts, in 2011, agreed to not only limiting alimony based on the length of the marriage but also having it end upon the retirement of the payer.

Florida Divorce Attorneys

The fact that alimony is a hotly contested issue in divorce is not going to go away any time soon, if ever. It is a fiercely litigated issue and one which the spouses involved feel very passionate about. The fact that alimony can become so heated is one of the many reasons why you need dedicated divorce counsel by your side. The dedicated divorce attorneys at the Orlando Family Team are here to help clients in all aspects of divorce. We will always fight for your best interests. Contact us today.

Upset-man-alone-preparing-for-romantic-date-with-his-sweetheart-800x534

Why Don’t More Men Get Alimony?

There are approximately 400,000 people in the country who receive payments in the form of alimony. Of these people, only 3 percent were men. That may not be surprising to you, as we typically think of women as the people who receive post-divorce support.

It may be more surprising when you discover that 40 percent of households today are headed by a female breadwinner. Those numbers would suggest that there are thousands of men who may be entitled to alimony that aren’t receiving it. But why?

Societal Pressures

There are a variety of reasons that men aren’t receiving alimony. Some choose not to. Gender roles dictate that the man is supposed to take care of the woman and not the other way around. Pride is a strong beast that can easily get in the way of a man accepting alimony payments from his ex-wife. In some instances, depending on what area of the country you live in, you may find a judge that is sexist. There’s really no other way to say it.

Sexist ideas and gender roles aren’t the only reasons that some men choose to forego alimony payments from their exes. Some men, the same as women, decline to seek anything from their ex because they hope the process of divorce goes smoother, not to mention co-parenting after the divorce. Some people simply believe that alimony will make things more difficult after the marriage ends, and it just isn’t worth paying the cost.

Perceived Self-Sufficiency

Others don’t take alimony payments because they believe that they are self-sufficient. They believe they will be able to easily find a job and support themselves. While in some cases this may be true, it is not always the case. Finding a job can take time, not to mention having a paycheck start rolling in. A man who believes that he doesn’t need alimony because he’s going to start taking care of himself quickly may be making a mistake.

What’s important to understand is that alimony payments are meant to enable the lower-earning spouse to support themselves until they can find a job. In other instances, it is meant to make up the difference between the income they have and what they will be losing in the divorce. No matter the reason, alimony is not a crutch but a necessary element in a divorce. Any person that deserves alimony and is not merely attempting to take advantage of their soon-to-be ex should accept the payments graciously.

Talk to an Orlando Divorce Attorney Today

If you need assistance with a divorce or have questions about alimony in Orlando, reach out to our family law team. We will review your needs at a free case evaluation and discuss your legal rights with you. Call today to schedule your consultation and let us assist you in making the process of divorce as smooth and efficient as possible.