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How does a pay increase after divorce affect alimony?

One of the realities that Maryland couples will likely face after divorce is that one spouse will be obligated to pay spousal support to the other. In most cases, the monthly payments will last forever - that is, until one of the spouses dies. What happens when the payor ends up with a sizable increase in income decades down the road? Is the recipient entitled to an increase in alimony?

Alimony is different from child support. It's not uncommon for custodial parents to ask for a modification in child support when the payor receives a raise. But with alimony, the guidelines are different because the money is being used to support a former spouse, not a minor child. Plus, if the increase in income occurs many years after a divorce, it's unlikely that the recipient spouse helped the paying spouse earn that money. So if a spouse receives $50,000 a year in alimony and is able to comfortably live on that amount for 10, 20 or even 30 years, there's no reason why they would suddenly need more money just because the paying spouse recently received a raise.

But there are a few exceptions. If the recipient was working and earning an income and become disabled, then there might be a reason to increase the alimony payments for a while. If the recipient became unemployed, that might necessitate a temporary increase in alimony as well.

Judges make the final decision, though, so there might be some other reason why a person would be ordered to pay more alimony. But, more than likely, income will have very little effect on an alimony agreement. Of course, each situation is different, so it makes sense to ask a family law attorney for advice and what the next steps should be, if applicable.

Source: Boston Herald, "Income increase doesn't affect alimony," Gerald Nissenbaum, Jan. 4, 2015

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http://www.mckeonlawfirm.com 202-742-1800 The McKeon Law Firm handles marital property issues in divorce. The attorneys are experienced in business valuation & tracing assets. Contact us in Gaithersburg, Maryland for property division matters.

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