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What Do I Need to Know About Alimony Before Divorce?

Avik Chakravorty

Divorce for anyone is a harrowing experience and therefore unpalatable and more so if it’s an acrimonious divorce settlement when contested. 

In case of divorce alimony payment is known as "spousal support" or "maintenance” are alive and kicking in the Indian divorce system. Moreover, if a spouse’s earnings are considerably more than the other spouse then in all likelihood the spouse with higher earnings would have to make alimony payments. Conversely, if the duration of the marriage is short or if both spouses’ earnings are nearly the same then in such cases the spouses are exempt from making alimony payments.


If alimony is decreed, then a specified amount would have to be paid on a monthly basis until:

  • a judge sets a date several years into the future
  • remarriage of the ex-spouse happens
  • a full-time parent at home is not needed any longer
  • the judicial verdict is that even after a considerable period of time, the spouse’s efforts have not been sufficient to at least be able to partly support oneself  
  • any other major event like retirement occurs, which would convince a judge that the amount to be paid ought to be modified
  • either one of the spouses dies

Similar to the vast majority of issues in one’s divorce, spouses can either agree or disagree on the time period of alimony payments. If there is any sort of disagreement a court would step in and the terms would be set for both spouses. Unfortunately, a court making the decision would mean a costly and time-consuming trial is about to unfold.


If alimony is expected to be paid


Since the ex-spouse has to be paid alimony does not necessarily mean the spouse paying alimony is an evil person. Alimony payments ought to be accepted as another cost component of marriage that a spouse may have been under the impression that the marriage is on firm footing and rock-solid so to speak but in fact, turned out to be on shaky grounds when spouses may have least anticipated causing the chasm among spouses. While alimony payments have been infrequent in recent times that isn’t any indication that alimony payment orders would be stopped forever.

If alimony is expected to be received


A good indicator of as to whether or not one fulfills the eligibility criteria for receiving alimony is earnings capacity of a spouse which isn’t necessarily the earnings of the spouse at the time the spouse files the lawsuit; the living standards while married are also taken into consideration.  

Changes may have to be made in one’s life and work. If, for example, a spouse works part-time and the job is not a well-paying job then it may be required that the spouse attempts at finding full-time employment in a domain with considerably better pay. “Vocational evaluators" are experts who are hired at times for reporting purposes to the court on the job prospects of a spouse who may not have been fully employed for some time. Vocational tests would be administered by the evaluator and then they would share the credential of the spouse with prospective employers so that the earnings potential of the spouse can be estimated. 

 

Taxes and Alimony Records


As of now, the paying spouse qualifies for tax-deductible alimony which is actually taxable income for the dependent spouse. This is one amongst numerous reasons for maintaining adequate records whether one is either paying or receiving alimony. Point to be noted neither will alimony payments be tax deductible any longer nor will alimony be included in the gross income of dependent spouses.

There was not enough emphasis on this point until this year. Often disputes among spouses persist even after divorce regarding the amounts paid or received in actuality. If documentation is inadequate, then the spouse paying alimony would be ineligible to claim an alimony tax deduction. Alternatively, the court may order alimony or maintenance payments in arrears to be fulfilled based on the other spouse’s claim before the court.


If there is a refusal to pay from one’s spouse


Last but not the least, if a court order for  alimony payments has been secured by a spouse but the other spouse is unwilling to make the necessary payments, taking immediate legal action is the way to go for enforcement of the order through either a “contempt” proceeding or through an “earnings assignment order.” Orders of paying alimony every month are binding and, if deftly managed, is enforceable resulting in the likelihood of obtaining payments regularly. If required, the court may order sentencing of a reluctant payer to demonstrate that a court order is to be obeyed.


A top divorce lawyer on Vidhikarya Legal Services is adept in advising its clients on everything that they need to know about  Alimony prior to divorce.  

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