Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law

What goes into determining alimony payments?

Some people may not be completely familiar with the financial effects of divorce. In a divorce settlement, one party -- the one with fewer personal assets -- may be granted spousal support from the financially secure spouse. While that concept may be simple enough, achieving a truly equitable settlement can be a matter that requires significant legal guidance.

Our readers in Worcester already know that divorce usually means there will be changes in the household income. Historically, women have been the primary recipients of spousal support, but modern trends show that men are more frequently in need of alimony. For either party, paying attention to monthly bills, tax returns and bank accounts is critical to understanding what a proper divorce settlement should look like.

Understanding the income and expense flow can arm a spouse with the information he or she needs to survive and thrive financially.

Consulting with a divorce attorney is a solid approach to dividing marital assets such as joint bank accounts and retirement plans. An attorney can discuss how a divorcing individual can manage the finances and use alimony to get through what could otherwise be the financial fallout of a divorce.

Alimony -- otherwise known as spousal support -- is granted to a spouse for an adjustment period, so the individual can cope with the economic impact of the marital split. The alimony is meant to help the individual earn training or education that may be valuable. Either way, spousal support is meant to help make the individual financially self-sufficient.

In determining alimony payments, the contributing factors are the incomes and earning capacities of each party, along with individually owned properties and the number of children involved. To calculate these matters accurately, Massachusetts residents would do well to consult with a professional with experience in dividing marital property.

Source: USA TODAY, "Get financially prepared before getting a divorce," Hadley Malcolm, Oct. 8, 2012

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