Will You Have to Pay Alimony?

Tue, 11/03/2015 - 2:34pm
Alimony

The answer, of course, is that it depends.  In Oklahoma, Alimony (also know as spousal support) is getting less common by our observation, but it is still available to an eligible party.

To be eligible to receive Alimony from another person the proposed recipient has to:

(1) be married to the proposed payor of the alimony
(2) be getting divorced or legally separated from the payor
(3) be able to demonstrate a genuine need for spousal support
(4) show that the proposed payor has the means to pay spousal support.

The first two are typically pretty easy to demonstrate (common law marriage is marriage for purposes of awarding Alimony).  The last two tend to play out as follows:

The proposed recipient produces a budget demonstrating that at the end of each month there is a deficit between their personal income and their personal, necessary and ordinary expenses (rent, gasoline, groceries, insurance, clothing, entertainment, etc.).  That deficit is the demonstrated need of the proposed recipient.  Opposing counsel has the opportunity to cross-examine or otherwise challenged the alleged need and to produce evidence regarding the actual expenses and the actual income of the proposed recipient.  The proposed recipient will typically also produce evidence of the proposed payor’s income, that, on its face would reasonably support the idea that the proposed payor has the ability to pay.

The proposed payor then produces a budget demonstrating what their ability to pay, if any, is.  It will generally also include a deficit or surplus between their personal income and their personal, necessary and ordinary expenses.  Opposing counsel to the proposed payor has the opportunity to cross-examine or otherwise challenged the alleged ability to pay and to produce evidence regarding the actual expenses and the actual income of the proposed payor.  The proposed payor will typically also produce evidence of the recipient’s income and their ability to work or otherwise generate income.

The trial court, if the matter is not settled, takes all the evidence and decides what is credible (or believable) and what is not.  The trial court makes a determination about the proposed recipient’s need and the proposed payor’s ability to pay.  If the proposed recipient has a need that is higher than zero and the proposed payor has an ability to pay that is higher than zero then the court can award alimony to the recipient in an amount up to the lower of either the recipient’s need or the payor’s ability to pay.  Those payments continue for a certain length of time, which is not set by rule but, rather, is based on the court’s judgment about how long the recipient’s need will last.  In any event, an order to pay alimony (that is not entered into by agreement of the parties) must be a “sum certain” for a “time certain” such that the total amount of alimony to be paid can be calculated by looking at the order.  In other words the trial court may not enter an order that one party pay the other party, for instance, 10% of annual gross income per year, since the total amount to be paid cannot be exactly calculated without looking at figures outside the court order.

Alimony is not gender based; either party to a marriage can receive it.  It generally terminates according to the terms of the court order, e.g. if the recipient remarries or cohabitates is a common provision, or when a substantial change occurs making alimony unnecessary (although this change must be ordered by the court upon motion and hearing.

This information is non-specific to any case.  Seek the advice of Childers & Motsinger or other qualified counsel for the application of alimony rules to your case.

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