Friday, June 8, 2012
We are in an era here as family law practitioners where a good portion of our practice consists of the modification of existing child support and alimony awards. People are losing jobs, losing homes, taking pay cuts, losing bonuses and other compensation that was previously used to determine a child support or alimony obligation. This is a big problem in cases where someone has received an alimony award and relies on those monthly payments to meet their basic living expenses. Regardless of whether or not an alimony award is non-modifiable, if the person responsible for making alimony payments loses a job and doesn't have any assets, your chances of being able to hold someone in contempt for non-payment of alimony is difficult. Furthermore, if someone retires, gets injured, loses their job or is otherwise unable to make alimony payments, if your alimony is not designated as "non-modifiable" you may very well receive a discounted alimony payment on an ongoing basis or it may be eliminated all together. With that being said, I feel that in the economy that we are currently stuck with, most people who are entitled to any form of alimony really need to consider the idea of "lump sum" upfront payments so that they can avoid the issue of an alimony award being terminated or reduced in the future based upon some unfortunate circumstance. If there are assets, especially cash assets, available during the initial divorce proceeding you should see how much of those assets can have distributed to you in a settlement in exchange for a reduced alimony payment. You never know what the future holds and if there is any way to "get your money up front" you should do it even if that means lowering your monthly alimony payments. If you are savvy with your lump sum payments and meet with a financial planner in order to manage your money properly, it may be a better deal for you in the long run. This is especially true if your husband/wife is in poor health, close to retirement or has a history of jumping from job to job. The old adage, "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush" is without question true when it comes to divorce settlements.