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Can Spousal Support Payments Be Modified?

Posted on: October 23, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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If you have been ordered to make spousal support payments in a divorce proceeding, you may wonder if these orders can be modified from time to time as your circumstances, or your ex-spouse’s circumstances change.  The answer is yes.  Below, our spousal support attorneys take a look at some of the changes that may be considered to modify or terminate a spousal support order.

Gravon Warning

If you are considering asking the court to modify or terminate your order to pay your ex-spouse alimony, start by hiring an attorney.   Ask them to check and see if the order includes a “Gravon Warning.” This is a clause that requires the person receiving support to become self-sustaining within a certain, but reasonable amount of time.  They should be able to show evidence that they are moving toward the goal of being self-sufficient.  If they are not making an attempt to do so, you may request an adjustment or termination of your obligation.

Changes in Income

Once a ruling is made for spousal support in a divorce case, life goes on.  Things may change in your financial life, as well as your ex-spouses.  You may have a major pay cut or financial downturn.  Your spouse may get a huge pay raise, or another windfall.  All of these are reasons that you might want to make an appeal to the court for a change.

Going Through Bankruptcy

This will not weigh in your favor when asking the court for a modification in your spousal support order.  Alimony is not a dischargeable debt in bankruptcy.  You can petition the court because you have a reduction in income, or a business loss, but not on the bankruptcy itself.

Your Ex-Spouse’s Disability

This is another area that calls for legal counsel.  If your ex-spouse does not work, and is not trying to gain employment or become self-sufficient, you can request an independent medical evaluation.  Once you’ve obtained that, the evaluation can be considered, as you bring in a vocational counselor to determine what types of employment are suitable.  A person with a disability due to a back injury can, obviously, be unable to work in a warehouse, but they may be able to do other work.  Claiming a general disability due to stress or depression should be verified by a physician that is a specialist in those practices.

Remarriage and Cohabitation

Typically, you will not have to continue spousal support after your spouse remarries.  If they are living with someone else, or “cohabitating,” then it can be assumed that their need for supplemental income has decreased, at least.  In either case, you want to make sure that you go through the court to have the order amended or removed.  Don’t just assume that it’s alright to stop paying.

Make Your Appeal

If you feel a change is justified in your spousal support order, make an appeal to the court with the help of a spousal support attorney.  If you adjust the amount of payment yourself, without going through the system, it may bring you trouble with the law.  Make your ordered payments, until you receive and amended order.

How is Spousal Support Determined in California?

Posted on: October 20, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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In California, as in most states, there are a number of points taken into consideration when determining the amount of spousal support a person might be granted in a divorce case.  It’s important to note that only a small percentage of cases include spousal support.  The purpose of spousal support is to allow the person receiving it to bridge the gap until they are able to maintain an appropriate standard of living on their own.  So, it’s not a given that either spouse will receive support in a final divorce decree.  Below, our spousal support lawyers take a look at some of the criteria that are used in making a determination.

The Basics

What are the needs of the person, based on their standard of living while married?  What are the assets and liabilities of each person?  How long has the marriage lasted?  Can the partner that asks for support work without adversely affecting children of the marriage?  Age and health of each partner will be considered.  Can the person that’s asked to pay support afford to pay it?

Earning Capacity

The court will look at both parties’ ability to maintain the same standard of living that they enjoyed during the marriage.  What marketable skills do each of them have?  What amount of time and/or expense is necessary to bring the lower earner up to speed?  Is education or training necessary to develop potential?

Time Out of the Job Market

Did one party lose traction in their career while taking care of children, or other domestic responsibilities?  Often times, one partner will give up their career, due to family demands, while the other person grows their position in their career.

Supporting a Spouse

When a couple is planning a future together, sometimes they make a decision that one person will work as the sole breadwinner.  Usually, this is because they have decided to further the education or career of the other person.  If this person has worked on their own to increase the value of the other partner’s career, the court will consider this when making decisions on spousal support.

Violence or Abuse

In case of violence, or spousal abuse, this is taken into consideration when there is documented evidence.  If the abusing spouse has been convicted of a crime for this reason, this will weigh heavier in the judgment.

Other Factors

Because California is a no-fault divorce state, a spouse’s infidelity is not taken into consideration when determining the amount of spousal support that a partner may receive.

The court may consider any other factors that they deem relevant.  This decision is left to the court, as long as it is “just and equitable” and within certain guidelines.

Length of Spousal Support

According to our spousal support attorneys, it is no longer that case that people are ordered to pay lifelong alimony.  The typical rule of thumb is that a person will receive support for half the length of the marriage, as long as the marriage is less than ten years.  Support orders can be modified or eliminated depending on events that affect both parties’ ability to pay or receive support.

Is Spousal Support Taxable?

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Divorce changes many things in your life.  The decisions that are made in the process of divorce are likely to affect your finances, and can also affect your tax liabilities.  If you are paying spousal support, or if you are receiving it, there’s a few things you should know. Let’s review what the tax implications are to your divorce settlement.

Can I Claim Child Support Payments on my Taxes?

Child support payments are not taxable.  You will not be able to take a deduction for them on your taxes, and your ex-spouse will not have to claim them as income.  You may be ordered to pay child support and spousal support. Child support differs from spousal support, also called alimony.  You can only claim the spousal support part of your payment.

Am I Able to Claim Alimony on My Taxes?

Spousal support can be claimed on your taxes, but that is only if you meet certain requirements.

  • You have to be filing your tax return in your own name, not as part of a joint return
  • You must no longer be cohabitating with your ex-spouse that is receiving the support
  • You must be paying in cash, instead of through property transfers

You might also be able to deduct expenses paid to someone else on behalf of your ex-spouse.  For instance, if you contribute to their housing expenses, or medical expenses, these may be deductible.

I Receive Spousal Support… Do I Have to Report That as Income?

Unlike child support, alimony received must be reported as income.  The income is reported on your tax return.  You may, however, take a deduction for the attorney fees and other fees connected with getting the spousal support started.  These deductions can obviously be taken only in the year that they are paid.

Record Keeping

If you pay alimony, or any eligible third-party payments, and you intend to claim these expenses on your taxes, record keeping is important.  You must have an organized record of the money you have paid to your ex-spouse.

Domestic Partnerships

If you were in a domestic partnership that was dissolved, that is a different circumstance.  You may be receiving support payments ordered through the court, but this is particular to California.  The tax code, both state and federal, may not have requirements or allowances to accommodate these relationships.  If this is the case, contact a family law attorney to help you understand your tax liabilities.

Do I Need to File Special Tax Forms?

You can claim spousal support payments even if you don’t itemize deductions.  You must, however, use IRS for 1040 to file your taxes.  You cannot use 1040EZ, or 1040A to file.  You must also provide your ex-spouse’s Social Security number when filing.

Ask for Help If You Need It!

If you’re unclear on what you need to do in order to take the deduction, or to claim the income, contact your tax accountant or spousal support attorney for clarification.  This is your best bet to avoid tax complications later.

Movies Filmed in Cerritos

Posted on: October 18, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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The city of Cerritos has attracted many filmmakers, especially in the 1990’s as a great location to film movies.  Here are a few of the films that add the Cerritos landscapes to their backdrop.

She’s All That

This 1999 film, directed by Robert Iscove, is an American teenage romantic comedy. In follows the classic “prom” story line.   Several young stars appear in the film, including Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook.  Look for Paul Walker, Matthew Lillard, Kevin Pollack, and Ana Pacquin.  The film is an updated adaptation of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady.  At the time of its release, it was extremely popular, reaching #1 at the box office during its first week.

Coneheads

In the 1990’s, there were several movies released that were spin-offs from the comedy sketches of Saturday Night Live, on NBC.  Produced by Lorne Michaels, and released by Paramount Pictures in 1993, the movie is part science fiction comedy, and part mockumentary.  The movie is based around a family of space aliens from Remulak, who stand out because of their bald, cone-shaped heads.  Trying to assimilate, they answer “France” when questioned about where they come from.  The movie features the acting of Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, who played the original roles on the NBC show.  In the film, Michelle Burke fills in as Laraine Newman’s character.  Hilarity ensues.  The film is dotted with cameo appearances by other television stars of the day.

Wayne’s World

Another of the Saturday Night Live spin-off movies, and perhaps the most successful, Wayne’s World was released in 1992.  This comedy was directed by Penelope Spheeris, and produced by Lorne Michaels.  It was written by Mike Myers and Bonnie and Terry Turner, writers for Saturday Night Live.  Mike Myers stars in the title role as Wayne Campbell.  Dana Carvey gives a stellar performance as Wayne’s best friend, Garth Algar.

The film is about Wayne and Garth, who put on a public-access tv show called “Wayne’s World.”  They broadcast from Wayne’s parents’ basement.  When a tv exec wants to buy the show, his prospects are at risk.  This was Mike Myers debut in a feature film format.  Other actors made appearances in it, such as Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Chris Farley, Ed O’Neill, and musicians Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper.

Wayne’s World was a huge success at the box office, debuting at #1.  It was in the top ten grossing films of 1992, and was the most commercially successful of all the eleven Saturday Night Live spin-offs.  It was the highest grossing, topping out at over $121 million.  The movie was such a commercial success, that the sequel “Wayne’s World 2” was released the following year in 1993.

Since the Nineties

All of the films noted above are basically from the 1990s.  There have been many short films shot in the city of Cerritos since that time, but not that many feature films.  For light entertainment and a few laughs, check out these Cerritos winners that are a blast from the past.

Notable People from Cerritos

Posted on: October 17, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Cerritos, California, is home to many notable people.  The list of sports celebrities is long and noteworthy.  Here are a few standouts from the list of well-known folks that hail from Cerritos.

Troy Aikman

Troy was born in 1966, and grew up in Cerritos.  He may be most recognized for his career as a football quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.  He was the number one overall draft pick in the NFL for 1989. He played quarterback for the Cowboys for twelve seasons.  Over the course of his football career, he was selected for the Pro Bowl six times.  He let the Cowboys to three Super Bowl wins, and was MVP in Super Bowl XXVII.  He’s been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2006.  He definitely had a stellar football career!

At one time, he was joint owner of a NASCAR racing team, and part owner of the San Diego Padres.  He’s transitioned his love of sports into a career as a TV sportscaster for FOX.

Pat Nixon

Pat Nixon was the wife of Richard Nixon, and was First Lady from 1969 until 1974.  Her birth name was actually Thelma Catherine Ryan.  She liked to go by the nickname her Dad gave her, “Pat,” although she never had it legally changed.  She was born in 1912 in Ely, Nevada. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to what is now Cerritos, California.  She worked her way through college. She married Richard Nixon, who was a lawyer at the time, in 1940.  She was a great support to her husband through his congressional and presidential campaigns.

She was quite active in diplomacy as First Lady.  She went with President Nixon to China and the Soviet Union.  She also took diplomatic trips to Africa and South America on her own.  She gained the distinction of being the first First Lady to visit a combat zone.  She earned respect in the host countries, as well as the media, for this outreach.  Pat died in 1993, after a notable life, at age 81.

Jim Zorn

Jim Zorn is an athlete.    During his time at Gahr High School in Cerritos, he played football, baseball, basketball, track, and curling.  After he graduated in 1971, he went on to play football at Cerritos College.   He got a scholarship from Cal Poly Pomona, and transferred there after two years at Cerritos College.  In his 1973 season, he received several distinctive honors for his performance.

During his professional career with the NFL, left-handed Zorn is best known at the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks during their first eight seasons.  After retiring from the quarterback position, he had a coaching career with various teams.  He started as the quarterbacks’ coach for the Seahawks for six years.  He was hired by the Washington Redskins in 2008, then went to the Baltimore Ravens for a couple years.  He then moved on to a coaching position with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011.

Jim is married and has four children with his wife, Joy.  The both work for philanthropic causes now and live on Mercer Island, close to Seattle.

Parks in Cerritos

Posted on: October 16, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Enjoy the parks and greenspaces in Cerritos and spend the day leisurely strolling and exploring.  Here are some ideas for places to relax and recharge.

Heritage Park

The 15 acres that make up Heritage Park in Cerritos will offer you a variety of activities to explore.  Take the kids to Heritage Park Play Island… check your times first.  They close every day at dusk, but opening times vary.  If you’re planning an event, you might want to make use of the Community Center.  Outdoor facilities included a softball diamond, which is lighted for night games.  The two basketball courts are also lighted.  You can reserve a picnic area with a barbecue.  The area has plenty of parking and restrooms.  Enjoy a day at Heritage Park!

Liberty Park and Fitness Center

Liberty Park and Fitness Center stretches over 34 acres, and has something for everyone!  The spacious Community Center has several rooms that can be used, including a dance studio, lounge, and two indoor racquetball courts.  The fitness center is located there, with memberships available to Cerritos residents.  The outdoor facilities are amazing, with softball, tennis, volleyball, and jogging track… all lighted for use after dusk!  There are two playground areas, and a water play area, for kids.   Picnic shelters and tables are available.  To top that off, you can play on a disc golf course, and two pickleball courts!

Don Knabe Community Regional Park

This is considered one of the most majestic parks in LA County.  Particularly striking are the sculptures in the park, placed among the lush, rolling green hills, and big, old trees.  Enjoy the two big fishing lakes, and join the many people that have called this park home for 43 years.  The park is renamed after past LA County Supervisor, Don Knabe in 2016.  There are many activities available here… take a swim, enjoy the sports fields and equipment, or spend the afternoon fishing.  Take the kids to the playground.  This park hosts seasonal events.  Watch for information on the Easter Egg Hunt, and check out the Halloween Carnival this fall!

Cerritos Park East

This beautiful park of 32 acres, is very well appointed. The Community Center in the park has a beautiful game room, an activity room, a dance room, and even a catering kitchen for events! If you’re into sports and recreations, you’ll find a wealth of facilities to play baseball, basketball, handball, tennis, or you can even go for a jog.  All these facilities are lighted for use in the evening!  For the kids, there’s a spray pool, which is great for when the kids are done playing on the playground in the sand area.  Bring some food, and spend the day.  You’ll find picnic shelters and tables throughout the picnic area.  It’s a great place to bring the family and make a day of it!

Frontier Park

At 3 acres, Frontier Park is a little wonder!  It really brings back the feeling of a neighborhood park.  It has a single basketball court and softball field.  Indoor facilities include a small craft room.  The kids will have fun on the playground equipment.  Pack a picnic, and enjoy it on the park’s picnic tables.  For a quick visit and to have some fun, spend some time at Frontier Park.

The Best Restaurants in Cerritos

Posted on: October 15, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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When you are in Cerritos, CA it’s time to stop and get a bite to eat, you’ve got some great choices.  Here are some spots you won’t want to miss!

STACKED

At STACKED, the food’s great and you can give in to temptation 7 days a week.  Their motto is… “Food Well Built”!  This place features great American food, but the secret’s in the sauce.   Sauces are the specialty here, with unique pairings and mixtures to tickle your taste buds.

Gen Korean BBQ

For a memorable experience, treat yourself to a meal at Gen Korean BBQ.  True to the art of Korean barbeque, food will come to your table sizzling.  Be tempted by the traditional ban-chan, Korean side dishes.    Enjoy a nice meal with a wide variety of choices.

Amor Y Tacos

This local favorite is open 7 days a week, and seems to appear on every list that shows the best restaurants in Cerritos!  You may remember Owner and Executive Chef, Tommy Ortega from his appearance on Gordon Ramsay’s series, “Hell’s Kitchen.” He’s come a long way since then, and he treats his hometown of Cerritos to Mexican comfort food specialties, with his own gourmet treatment.  Don’t miss a chance to savor these flavors!

El Rocoto Restaurant

Peruvian food has surged in popularity, and is enjoyed all over the world.  If you love Peruvian food, you must make a visit to El Rocoto Restaurant.  Jorge Chan took the childhood experience of learning traditional recipes from his Peruvian-Chinese parents, and carried it with him as he studied at Le Cordon Bleu in LA.  This is an experience you won’t soon forget! You can check them out seven days a week.

North Shore Poke Co.

Cerritos has a wealth of food from many cultures available to enjoy.  One gastronomical treasure is North Shore Poke Co.  Their Hawaiian style cuisine is delicious and affordable.  The family-run business aims to have you coming back time and again.  Chef Shawn Gole focuses on creating mind-blowing Hawaiian poke!  Stop in and enjoy yourself… but be prepared to get hooked!

Elbows Mac N Cheese

This is not Grandma’s mac n cheese!  You can come into Elbows Mac n Cheese any day of the week to get your comfort food fix!  They’re putting a gourmet twist on the old American standard.  By using the best, high-quality ingredients, and giving it their signature treatment, the end result is …delicious! Enjoy soup and salad there as well.   You’ll feel comfortable and at home at Elbows!

Mezza Mediterranean Grill

Open seven days a week, Mezza Mediterranean Grill is ready to treat your taste buds to a delicious variety of flavors.  Chef Najwa gets there early every day to inspect the food deliveries.  She’s checking to see that you get the very best, freshest ingredients in the dishes she prepares. The motto at their weekend brunch is “Eat till You Drop”.  I have to warn you that with all the temptations you’ll face, that’s a good possibility.

Enjoy the abundance of local restaurants in Cerritos, and treat your palate!

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody in California

Posted on: October 14, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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In California, when a child is born to parents that are husband and wife, the law makes the assumption that the child is conceived and born as a result of that marriage.  The husband and wife are said to be “mother” and “father” … the child’s parents.  If the parents are not legally married when the child is born, the legal status of the parents change.

Determining Paternity

According to California law, there are two ways to determine paternity of a child if the parents are not married.  The most common way is for the father to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity (VDP), according to our child custody lawyers.  This is usually done at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, and as part of the paperwork surrounding the happy event.

The other way to determine parentage is through a court order.  In this case, the court determines who is the child’s father.  This sometimes involves a court-ordered DNA test.

This is the way throughout most of California.  In Sonoma County, it’s a bit more complicated, as several forms must be filed and answered.  How smooth or difficult this procedure is depends a lot on whether it’s contested.

The Status Quo

Several factors will be considered in a custody case hearing.  In preparation for the hearing, the attorney will evaluate the case, including history, “status quo,” and future projections for the child’s wellbeing.  The status quo considers how things are working now.  How is the child used to living their life, and sharing their parents? If the arrangement has been working well for the child, this is what the court will generally default to.  If, as a parent, you are trying to make changes in the status quo, you should be prepared to show why these current arrangements are not in the best interest of the child.

Get it In Writing

There may be an assumption that once parentage has been determined or decided, that a parent has an automatic right to see their child.  This is not so, and can depend a lot on how the parent with physical custody feels.  That’s why it’s always better to get a custody and visitation agreement in writing.  Don’t leave your relationship with your child up to someone else’s whim.  If you do not have a legal custody and visitation agreement in force, you may pay more in child support, and have less power to object to being denied visitation.  You will not have any recourse if communication between parents breaks down, and your informal agreement is not honored.

Take the Right Steps

To recap, follow the proper steps to ensure that you have a chance to parent your child and be a part of their life.  Determine parentage early, preferably at birth.  Establish a sensible support system for the child that involves both parents.  AND… get a legal agreement in writing.  This last step is important because it protects the future parent-child relationship.  Don’t leave things to chance if you are not married to your child’s other parent.

For more information, speak to our child custody attorneys today.

Top Employers in Cerritos

Posted on: October 13, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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Cerritos, California, is a nice place to live and work.  You may be curious… who are the top employers in Cerritos?  Here’s what the numbers say.

ABC Unified School District

This “unified” school district actually joins several school districts into one, and the resulting school district is located in Cerritos, employing approximately 1900 people.  The ABC stands for the cities of Artesia, Bloomfield, and Carmenita.  They were joined under the unification in 1965.

United Parcel Service

We’re all familiar with the UPS “brown.”  UPS is a top employer in Cerritos, where it has a hub location.  This provides plenty of jobs to Cerritos residents, and the company employs almost 1800 residents in the Cerritos area.

AT & T Mobility

Wireless giant A T & T has corporate facilities in Cerritos, and contribute quite a bit to the economy there by employing just under 1.000 area residents.  This makes them the number three employer in the area.

Southern Wine and Spirits of Southern California

Now known as Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, this company has a huge wholesale distribution center in Cerritos.  They provide 979 people with a means to make a living in Cerritos, and they are the fourth top job provider in the Cerritos area.

City of Cerritos

The City of Cerritos does a lot to keep the workforce employed there.  Number five on the list of top employers, they provide a huge variety of jobs to residents.  It is estimated that they employ nearly 670 people.

College Hospital

College Hospital, opened in 1973, is a psychiatric hospital.  They provide services and help for seniors, adolescents, and children with mental health issues.  They help provide Spanish speaking services to those in the Hispanic community that need help.  Hospitals generally keep a lot of people employed, and College Hospital is no exception.  They employ 523 residents from the Cerritos area.

Nordstrom

Retail giant Nordstrom is known for their outstanding customer service and the VIP treatment that they give to their customers.  It’s no surprise that they’ve hired quite a few Cerritos residents to make sure they deliver on their promises.  Nordstrom employs around 350 people from this area.

Delta Dental of California

Delta Dental of California is one of the nation’s largest dental health care plans.  They also make the list of Cerritos top employers!  Stimulating the economy and helping people smile!  Delta provides jobs for over 350 in the Cerritos vicinity.

Norm Reeves Honda Superstore

Norm Reeves Honda Superstore was voted America’s #1 Honda Dealership in 2016.  I think it speaks volumes about their involvement in the Cerritos community, that they have community events posted on their web page.  That tells me that they want to be your Honda dealer, but they also want to be your neighbor.  Norm Reeves Honda Superstore keeps 286 people gainfully employed in the Cerritos community.

Hats Off to These Top Employers

Thanks to these businesses, people have work that they can be proud of in Cerritos.  Support these local businesses!  Help them keep the community vibrant and successful!

What are the Different Types of Alimony in California?

Posted on: October 12, 2017 by in Uncategorized
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There are many different reasons that a marriage may be dissolved.  That being said, it makes sense that there are different types of alimony that can be awarded to fit the situation under which the marriage was ended.  Here are the different types of alimony awards that you might see.  It is possible that more than one type of alimony can be awarded in the same case in the state of California, depending on the circumstances of the case, and the findings of the court.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony, also known as alimony pendent lite is usually awarded during the time that the couple is separated, but not yet divorced.  As the name indicates, it’s a temporary measure taken while the divorce case in under consideration.  Typically, this order stays in effect until the divorce is final, and permanent alimony has been awarded.  In addition to living expenses, the courts may include the cost of obtaining the divorce.  The length of payment will depend on how much time is required to settle the case.

Permanent Alimony

This is the alimony that is awarded by the court once the divorce is final, and the decree is issued.  It is due on a regular and recurring schedule, and usually does not have an end date.  Payments are made indefinitely until a support payment is modified through the court.  On occasion, lump sum payments are made, or payments are made through a trust or annuity.  Typically, monthly payments are made to the person awarded support.

Rehabilitative Alimony

If one party or the other is unable to support themselves on their own, the judge may order rehabilitative alimony to allow the other person to get on their feet, while they are looking for work, or receiving training or education to allow them to be gainfully employed.  When this type of alimony is ordered, it is usually for a specific time frame, and according to a certain plan, according to our spousal support lawyers.

Reimbursement Alimony

In some situations, a spouse has worked to put the other person through college, or training.  They may have supported the family on their own while the other person was securing a higher position in their career.  When the marriage dissolves, this spouse will be entitled to reimbursement alimony in some cases.  It may reimburse the person for the tuition paid, or a portion of tuition and other costs.

Lump Sum Alimony

In cases where one of the spouses does not want any of the property or assets gained during the marriage, the courts may award them a lump sum alimony payment.  This is one-time alimony payment made for the other persons share of assets.

Is Alimony Awarded in All Divorce Cases?

It is possible that someone in a divorce case asks for alimony and is denied.  Alimony is meant to be fair and just to both parties.  If both people are self-sufficient, and each one can enjoy a nice lifestyle, they may not be awarded alimony.  It is not meant to be a punitive measure.

For more information, speak to our spousal support lawyers.