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Understanding alimony and modifications

Whether or not you qualify for alimony or spousal support can be a confusing subject when it comes to divorce. Even once you figure out if alimony is an option, there's still the matter of how much to be decided. It's no surprise that this can be a contentious issue in divorces, but having an experienced family law attorney in your corner as you negotiate and settle alimony payments can help a great deal.

Unlike child support, alimony is not calculated by plugging income into a formula and getting a specific monthly amount. The alimony for each case is decided independently, which means it is largely up to the court's interpretation and how the attorneys for both sides present their cases. Some factors that are included in the discussions are both parties' income as well as future earning potential and financial needs. The parties' health, age and number of years married also come into play.

However, it's important to understand that once the court has made a decision on how much alimony you will pay or receive, it may change at a later date. Living with another partner, for instance, could result in a reduction for those receiving alimony payments, even if you do not remarry. A significant change in income, financial need or life circumstance may also be grounds for a modification.

Modifications can be either permanent or temporary, so it's important to go into the process as informed as possible. Understanding the factors that influence alimony and how your choices after the settlement may impact future changes can help you protect your interests.

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