Of all the issues that come up in a divorce, spousal maintenance can be one of the touchiest areas. Spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony, has been a hot topic in recent years, as our society transforms to one in which both spouses work full-time and increasingly produce similar incomes. Although alimony laws vary by state, most of the time the issues to be decided include whether to award alimony at all, and if so in what amount. Alimony awards can vary from temporary agreements that allow one spouse time to get on their feet as a single person, to lifetime awards when marriages are long in duration. And, the amount of the alimony award can be significant, especially when the divorce involves a wealthy couple.
Actor Brendan Fraser has found himself in an alimony dispute, as he has recently sought to reduce the payments he was ordered to make in his divorce from his wife in 2009. At that time, Fraser was a bit more well-known than he is today, having starred in the popular "Mummy" movie franchise. Now, however, Fraser is arguing that he is not making the income he used to, and as such would like an alimony modification.
Many times a divorcing couple will arrive at an alimony agreement on their own, but other times the orders come from the court. Like child support orders, an alimony order is usually open to modification under certain circumstances, but the bar to be met to get a modification can be quite high. Fraser was originally ordered to pay $900,000 per year in alimony.
As is the case in most family laws problems, the most desirable outcome is for the parties to work out an agreement outside of court. But that is not always possible. While most people with an alimony order don't have to make annual payments of $900,000, in today's economy every dollar counts. Before pursuing an alimony modification, however, it is wise to review all of the options, as well as the factors the court will consider in making the decision.
Source: contactmusic.com, "Brendan Fraser - Broke Brendan Fraser Wants Alimony Payments Reduced," Feb. 11, 2013