the word alimony written on a piece of paperThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing the division of property between divorcing spouses in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our previous post focused on the distinction between marital and nonmarital property. Generally speaking, marital property is divided equitably between the parties, and nonmarital property is retained by the original owner. While it is generally understood that assets and debts acquired by a couple during their marriage are jointly owned, identifying nonmarital property can become complicated. An experienced attorney can help you understand how this issue may impact the outcome of your case. In this article, we will discuss how the division of marital property may affect an alimony award. If you need assistance, contact our office to speak with a lawyer.

Divorce can wreak havoc on each spouse’s finances. This is especially true when one spouse earns significantly more income than the other. In such situations, the Court may determine that the lower wage earner requires ongoing financial support in the form of alimony. Spousal support may be temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent depending on the circumstances. For instance, it may only be necessary to grant temporary alimony to a spouse while the divorce is pending or for a brief period after it is final to obtain job training or education. In other cases, longer-term or permanent alimony is generally only appropriate for couples who have been married for a long period or if the other spouse is totally unable to support themselves financially. When considering alimony awards, the Court will evaluate all relevant factors such as each spouse’s current and potential future income, their prior standard of living, and the length of the marriage. The Judge will review each spouse’s financial resources including nonmarital assets and debts. Importantly, the Court will also consider awards of marital property being granted to the party seeking alimony. This means that the greater amount of property or assets one receives in the divorce, the less likely it is that the Judge will award alimony.

Consider the following example. Husband is employed as a computer programmer and Wife is a stay-at-home mom. After 15 years of marriage, they decide to divorce. The Judge determines that an equal split of their marital assets would be inequitable given Wife’s contributions as a homemaker and her lack of current job skills or employment opportunities. He, therefore, awards her the family home in addition to fifty percent of their joint savings. Wife also seeks alimony from Husband. In considering the request, the Judge must take into account that Wife has been awarded a valuable asset and cash that she can use to support herself while finding employment. Depending on the other circumstances of the case, the Court may decide that alimony, which she may have otherwise been awarded, should be reduced or is unnecessary. How a Judge will rule in any given matter will depend on the specific facts of the case.

Alimony decisions can have a serious long-term impact on your finances. With so much at stake, it is important to contact an attorney to help you understand your rights. Our firm has extensive experience representing Little Rock residents who are considering or going through a divorce. We are ready to assist you through the process. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. In addition to Little Rock, we handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.