A recent story out of Southern Florida chronicled the three-year saga of a divorcing couple.

In many ways, our Birmingham alimony lawyers recognized it as a story similar to so many across the country. They fell in love. Had children. Lived well. Vacationed around the world. Then they fell out of love, each for their own reasons. Now, they were dividing every detail of their lives – their assets, their bank accounts and their time with their children.

Most news outlets won’t touch an individual divorce case with a 10-foot pole, especially not in-depth and over the course of three years, unless there is some compelling reason, such as the significant prominence of at least one of those involved.

The Tampa Bay Times enterprise reporter attended one hearing early on at the invitation of the husband, simply as a way to see how the process worked. What she ended up finding was all the ways the process didn’t work.

In her in-depth story, "The divorce from hell, the battle for alimony and emptied pockets," she wrote about how the issue of alimony had been the one bit that had bogged the case down from the start (although it was true that by that point, the couple could hardly agree on anything at all).

The husband had started with an offer on the table of $5,400 a month. That was rejected, and six offers and many bitter legal battles later, it was down to $0. 

Cases like this are often referred to as high conflict, and they require an attorney who can be equal parts aggressive and sensitive. In these cases, an attorney needs to know when to stand his ground and when to back down.

It’s important because the issue of alimony or child support or asset division needn’t spiral into a years-long nightmare like this one. Sure, it’s easier if you and your soon-to-be-ex can come to an agreement. But it’s expected you will have differences. That’s probably one of the reasons you are divorcing in the first place. An experienced lawyer knows that while divorce is almost never easy, it shouldn’t be "hell." 

On the issue of alimony, Alabama State Divorce Code, Chapter 2, Section 30-2-52, 30-2-53, these payments, if any, will be based on the need of the person requesting versus the ability of the other to pay it. If fault (such as infidelity) is a factor in the divorce, the judge has the authority to make an allowance to either spouse out of the estate or to decline to do so.

It’s worth noting that whatever property you or your spouse acquired prior to the marriage or as a result of an inheritance will not be considered as subject to calculation in alimony determinations.

In some cases, a judge may order a temporary alimony agreement during the course of the divorce proceedings. That order may be lifted in favor of another or none at all following the end of the process. This can either be paid on a set schedule or in a lump sum.

Permanent alimony was once quite common, though it has become rarer as the years have worn on. In many cases, the judge may order long-term alimony, but will decline permanent alimony payments. Permanent payments are often reserved for older folks, particularly those who may have served as homemakers during especially long marriages.

In shorter marriages, the court is generally going to view alimony through the lens of rehabilitation. That is, an allowance given for a set period of time to allow the other spouse to get back on his or her feet.

There have been some cases in which the court has awarded some modicum of alimony to a spouse who worked full-time to support both parties while the other was attending advanced vocational training or graduate school.

Whatever your situation, we are dedicated to helping you through this process with as smooth a transition as possible. We recognize the road to divorce may be imperfect, but the ultimate goal is to get you someplace better — sooner rather than later.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

The divorce from hell, the battle for alimony and emptied pockets, April 3, 2013, By Leonora LaPeter Anton, Tampa Bay Times

More Blog Entries:

Advantages of Being First to File for Divorce, April 2, 2013, Birmingham Alimony Lawyer Blog