Alimony is one of the most difficult matters for a court to decide or attorneys to predict. Although there is a statute which lists a number of factors which a court should consider in making an alimony determination, alimony decisions remain far more art than science.
The Jones Factors
The three most important factors a court must consider in deciding alimony were described in a case called Jones v. Jones. These factors are:
- The needs of the spouse requesting alimony
- The requesting spouse’s ability to earn income to meet her own needs
- The paying spouse’s ability to pay alimony
Other factors which are included in the statute and which courts examine in making an alimony decision include:
- The length of the marriage
- Which spouse has custody of the minor children
- Whether the spouse requesting alimony worked in a business which was owned or controlled by the other spouse
- Whether the spouse requesting alimony directly contributed to the earning capacity of the other spouse. This usually involves putting the other spouse through school.
In order to make a reasonable determination on these issues, both parties will have to submit financial declarations. These declarations are made under oath and contain information on the parties’ income, tax deductions, assets, debts and expenses. The court also requires the parties to provide documentation to support the claims made in the financial declaration. The supporting documents include:
- Complete tax returns for the previous two years, including all schedules and attachments
- Pay stubs and evidence of any other income for the previous 12 months
- Copies of loan applications or financial statements the spouse has completed over the previous year
- Any information the spouse has to establish the value of real estate the parties own, including tax notices and appraisals
- Copies of statements for all financial accounts for the previous three months. These include statements for savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, stock accounts, retirement accounts and any other accounts where the spouse has money on deposit
- Documents which support the spouse’s claimed expenses, such as utility bills, mortgage statements, credit card statements, statements for car loans and other documents which show the expenses.
If a spouse does not have some or all of the documents listed above, the spouse must explain why he or she does not have the documents.
Contact one of the attorneys listed at the top of this page or visit us at our office for a free consultation to discuss alimony and other issues related to your divorce.