Your children and your home have been your career for years. You gave up your career outside the home to care for your children, and now that you’re getting divorced, you wonder what the future holds.
One of your biggest worries is how you will support yourself financially after the divorce, whether or not the children stay with you. Especially if they do stay with you, you worry how you will also financially support them.
What financial supports may I be awarded in the divorce?
The two main things that can financially support you after the divorce are alimony and child support, if you are awarded custody of the children.
There are many factors a court will look at in determining whether you qualify for either of these, and if so, how much you will be awarded and for how long.
How will the amount of alimony be determined?
Although it can vary depending on the financial situation of both spouses, courts do take into account the amount of time, effort and work you have put into the household and raising the children when determining if you have a right to continue to be financially supported by your ex-spouse.
The amount of time you are awarded alimony can also vary. Courts take into account your education level and whether you have the skills and ability to find employment outside the home, or a way to support yourself and your children through other ways of obtaining income, like self-employment.
Courts also take your age into consideration. In some cases, a court could grant you alimony for the rest of your life, if your employment outlook or age would prevent you from being able to re-start a career outside the home.
The main thing the court will look at is how much and how long you will need alimony for financial support. It is important to note that alimony is considered taxable income, so if you do not make tax payments on them throughout the year, you may be hit with a large tax bill come tax time.
Alimony is also not set in stone forever – if the financial situation of your ex-spouse changes, that may warrant a change to the amount of alimony he will pay to you. This could mean your alimony payments could be reduced if your ex-spouse’s income is reduced.
How will the amount of child support be determined?
The amount of child support depends on many factors. Some of these factors include how many children there are, whether all of them will continue living with you and under your care and how much, if any, income you are able to make on your own. The court will determine an amount not only based on how much the children need, but also based on the income of your ex-spouse.
If you have children you are caring for who are almost turning 18, it is important to keep in mind that child support payments only continue for minor children, or those under the age of 18. If the child turns 18 but has not yet graduated high school, the payments can continue until he or she graduates. It is crucial to plan ahead for any foreseeable changes in income if your child will continue living with you past the age of 18 or past the time he or she graduates high school.
Looking toward the future
A divorce is never easy emotionally or financially. Even if you are awarded alimony or child support, or both, there’s no guarantee your ex-spouse will always pay what is owed, or pay on time. This can add stress to an already stressful situation.
If you have concerns or questions about your divorce and finances, an experienced family law attorney can help assess your specific situation and provide guidance on the best possible options for you and your children.