Alimony Meaning Exposed: The Hidden Truths and How to Make it Work for You

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Introduction

Hey, it’s DubG, your go-to for all things debt, divorce, and DIY. Today, we’re diving into the world of alimony, or, as I like to call it, “the financial tug-of-war post-marriage.” You’re here because you’re either navigating the labyrinth of divorce or you’re just killing time while your latte gets cold. Either way, let’s talk alimony, shall we? And don’t worry, I won’t make this as painful as listening to a Nickelback album on repeat.

What is Alimony Anyway?Marriage and alimony

Alimony, my dear friends, is like that monthly subscription to Netflix that your ex has to pay for. Instead of getting access to endless movies and TV shows, they’re contributing to the “Keep Our Kids Fed and Clothed” fund. It’s the financial support that one spouse is required to pay to the other after a divorce. Sounds simple, right? Well, hold onto your hats because it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated!

How Long Does This Alimony Thing Last?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Or, in our case, the few hundred dollars-a-month question. The duration of alimony payments depends on a variety of factors, like the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and whether or not you have a magic 8 ball that can predict the future.

Alimony and Spousal Support: The Same Thing or Secret Twins?

Alimony and spousal support are like Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. They look the same, but they’re not identical. Alimony is usually paid after the divorce, while spousal support can be paid during the separation. It’s like getting a sneak peek at the financial horror movie that is to come.

How is Alimony Calculated?

How is alimony calculated?

How is alimony calculated?

Calculating alimony is a bit like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube while blindfolded. It involves a complex formula that takes into account each spouse’s income, the standard of living during the marriage, and the age and health of each spouse. It’s a fun game of numbers that usually ends with you wanting to pull your hair out.

When I was navigating this labyrinth, it felt like I was starring in a courtroom drama directed by Stephen Hawking. The judge seemed to have as much latitude as an improv comedian on a Saturday night, leaving me to wonder if I was in a court of law or an episode of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” So, let me be your cautionary tale: arm yourself with knowledge, a sense of humor, and for the love of all things holy, a competent attorney.

You can punch numbers into a calculator until you’re blue in the face, but the alimony you’ll end up with (or without) isn’t going to magically appear next to the square root symbol. It’s a complex formula that often turns the courtroom into a battleground. In my case, it was like trying to solve a calculus equation while Judge Judy yelled at me for not carrying the one. And let me tell you, the judge’s discretion in these matters can be as unpredictable as a cat on a hot tin roof. So learn from my misadventures: when it comes to alimony, expect the unexpected and prepare for the inexplicable.

Term What It Really Means Pop Culture Analogy
Alimony Money for the lesser-earning spouse Beyoncé of Divorce
Spousal Support Same as alimony, just fancier The Lady Gaga of Divorce
Maintenance Again, same thing, but sounds like a chore The Madonna of Divorce
Equitable Distribution Dividing assets “fairly,” not necessarily equally. The go-to in 41 states The Oprah of Divorce
Community Property What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours. Assets split 50/50 in 9 states The Sonny and Cher of Divorce
Pendente Lite Temporary alimony to keep you afloat during the divorce process The Netflix Trial of Divorce
Arrears Unpaid, overdue alimony or support Think of it as the homework you never turned in The Ferris Bueller of Divorce
Bench Warrant A judge’s order to arrest you for not appearing in court or for unpaid alimony The “Wanted” Poster of Divorce
Writ A formal written order, usually from a higher court The Royal Decree of Divorce
Garnish Taking money directly from wages or bank accounts for unpaid alimony The Robin Hood of Divorce
Seize Confiscating property to satisfy unpaid alimony The Pirate Plunder of Divorce

This table is like the Rosetta Stone of divorce terms. It won’t make the process any less painful, but at least you’ll know what they’re talking about when they throw these terms at you like confetti at a New Year’s Eve party.

Equitable Distribution vs. Community Property: When Fair Isn’t Always Fair

Let’s talk about “equitable distribution,” a term that sounds as fair and balanced as a tightrope walker on a windy day. The word “equitable” is supposed to mean “fair and impartial,” but let me tell you, that’s as laughable as a clown at a funeral. In my own experience, the judge was about as impartial as a soccer mom cheering for her kid while giving the stink eye to the opposing team (guilty).

I presented evidence—actual, tangible evidence—while my ex brought to the table what can only be described as a steaming pile of bovine excrement. Yet, the judge looked at him as if he were reciting Shakespearean sonnets. At one point, the judge even said, “Well, he really believes it,” as if my ex’s conviction in his own lies somehow made them true.

So here’s my advice: If you’re going Pro Se, start practicing your best “I’m not worthy” bow to the judge. If you’re lawyering up, make sure you pick an attorney who’s got a track record of playing nice with your specific judge. Because in this game, relationships are the cheat codes. Trust me on this one guys, it’s going in my (very large) book of “If I knew then, what I know now” bloopers otherwise known as my life.

States With No Alimony: The Divorce Frontier

Now, let’s talk about the states that have looked at alimony and said, “Nah, we’re good.”

We’re talking about California, Arizona, Nevada, Louisiana, Idaho, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Washington. In these places, alimony is as rare as a unicorn sighting. So if you’re living in one of these states and contemplating divorce, you might want to consider alternative financial plans—like turning your garage into a TikTok studio or becoming a dogecoin millionaire.

In these alimony-free zones, the financial aftermath of a divorce can look very different, so it’s crucial to be prepared. Whether that means stashing away some “just in case” funds or becoming besties with a financial advisor, you’ll need a game plan that doesn’t hinge on monthly checks from your soon-to-be-ex.

 

The Pendente Lite Paradox: When Temporary Support Feels Like a Never-Ending SagaPendente lite

Ah, pendente lite, the Latin term that sounds like a fancy cocktail but is actually more like a never-ending hangover. Trust me, I know this all too well. When my ex decided to play legal hide-and-seek—hiring an attorney to fight a restraining order, so he could continue to make my life miserable and destroy every part of me, but remained in hiding, ghosting the divorce court—I was happy I was able have a judge grant temporary support based on those grounds, however, I then found myself stuck in it, while Covid playing a lead role in the demise of enforcement of support, especially pendente lite.

This “temporary” alimony was supposed to be a stopgap, a financial band-aid while the divorce wheels slowly turned. But let me tell you, it felt more like being stuck in a never-ending episode of “The Twilight Zone.” I was in this limbo from January 2020 until May 2023. Yes, you read that right. Over three years of my life were spent in this so-called “temporary” state.

And here’s the kicker: During the pandemic, enforcing this type of support was like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall. Unlike child support, which has enforcement mechanisms that could make a drill sergeant blush, pendente lite is treated like the red-headed stepchild of the family law world. Technically is is not a

So, if you find yourself in a pendente lite situation, brace yourself. It’s not just a temporary fix; it’s a legal quagmire that can stretch on for what feels like eons. And while you’re at it, maybe find a good therapist. You’re going to need one.

The Lifespan of Alimony: ‘Til Death (Or Other Milestones) Do Us PartMarriage and alimony

Alimony duration correlates with the length of your marriage. Think of it like dog years but with less fur and more paperwork. So if you were married for less than 5 years, chances are you’ll receive alimony for a shorter period. But if your marriage lasted longer, like more than 5 years, you’re likely looking at a more extended spousal support. You could even get a lifetime alimony package if your marriage was a two-decade-long season of “The Bachelor.”

For a more in depth look at the various types of alimony and the lifespan you may be able to expect, check out our article on Medium. 

The Alimony Tax Tango: When Uncle Sam Joins the Dance

When it comes to federal taxes, since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), which went into effect on January 1, 2019, the tax rules around alimony have more plot twists than a season finale of “Game of Thrones.” If your divorce was finalized after 2018, the payer can’t deduct alimony payments, and the receiver doesn’t have to pay taxes on them. HAHA… maybe my ex should have answered the collaborative divorce attorney after all!

But, of course, there are exceptions, including state taxes, which in NJ does in fact count as income for the recipient. So, consult a tax advisor who knows the IRS’s quirks better than a Trekkie knows Klingon.

 

Deadbeat Spouse Alert: When the Checks Stop Coming In

If your ex treats alimony payments like optional homework, like mine does,  it’s time to go legal. Trust me, I’ve been down this road; actually, I’m stuck down it as we speak, waiting for the tow truck known as Writs (check out my Medium article and stay tuned for updates on my progress) and it’s about as enjoyable as a root canal without anesthesia. You’ll need a lawyer who specializes in the “Where’s My Money?” subgenre of family law. This isn’t a DIY project; it’s a call-in-the experts situation.

Avoiding Alimony: The Reality Check of Pre- and Post-Nuptial Agreements

Ah, the prenup. It’s like the financial airbag in the head-on collision that can be marriage. Now, before you roll your eyes and say it’s a romance killer, hear me out. A well-drafted prenup or post-nup isn’t just a legal formality; it’s your financial safety net. I mean, you wouldn’t go skydiving without a parachute, right? So why would you dive into matrimony without some legal safeguards?

But here’s the kicker, and listen closely because this is crucial: not all states are created equal when it comes to honoring these agreements. Take New Jersey, for example. You could draft the most ironclad prenup, but if you hit the jackpot in the next Pick6 or your startup becomes the next unicorn, there’s precedent that might not honor your prenup in its entirety 5–10 years down the line.

So, while a prenup or post-nup is a smart move, it’s not foolproof. It’s like buying a top-of-the-line lock for your bike and then finding out someone’s figured out how to pick it. Always, and I mean always, consult with an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of your state’s laws. Trust me, it’s worth every penny. Cheers!

I Can’t Afford a Lawyer: How ONTO.AI is Changing My Legal Game

Look, I know the struggle. Lawyers cost an arm and a leg, and when you’re going through a divorce, it feels like you’re already giving away half your life. But here’s something that’s genuinely rocked my world: ONTO.AI, a beta AI law platform.

I’m not saying this to sell you on it; I’m saying it because it’s been a game-changer for me. This platform is like having a legal advisor on standby, 24/7, without the hourly rates that make you want to weep. It’s helped me draft documents, understand the maze of legal jargon, and give me a sense of control in a situation where I often feel powerless.

Now, here’s the deal: I’m so impressed by this platform that I’ll be doing live demos to walk you through its capabilities. But, full disclosure, I’ve got to wait until after my hearing at the end of the month to show you the nitty-gritty details. I promise, it’ll be worth the wait.

If you’re curious and want to try ONTO.AI for yourself, do me a favor: mention that Wendy, aka DubG, sent you. You’ll get early access, some free extras, and a nice discount when they launch. I’ve negotiated this because I genuinely believe it can help you as much as it’s helping me, because it would be so please don’t forget to use my name.

So, if you’re financially strapped but need solid legal advice, ONTO.AI might just be your lifeline. I’m not saying it’ll solve all your problems, but it’s a damn good place to start. And remember, we at Mom Versus the World are with you every step of the way. Cheers!

Making Alimony Work for You

Now that we’ve uncovered the hidden truths about alimony, let’s talk about how to make it work for you. Here are a few tips:

  1. Negotiate. Alimony is not set in stone. You can negotiate the amount and duration of the payments. So put on your best poker face and get ready to haggle!
  2. Document Everything: Keep a record of all payments received and expenses incurred. This will come in handy during tax season and if any disputes arise.
  3. Stay informed: Laws regarding alimony can change. Stay updated on the latest laws in your state to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.

Remember, ladies, alimony is not a punishment, but, as I found out, it’s a right. In New Jersey, it is governed by New Jersey Statutes – Title 2A, Sections 34-23 but every state has its own statutes since these types of cases are handled on the state level.  It’s there to help you maintain the standard of living you’re accustomed to. So don’t be afraid to fight for what you deserve. After all, we’re not just moms; if you’re like me, you’ve put up with a whole lot of bull snot, so get what is rightfully yours.

And that’s all for today’s episode of “Surviving the Jungle of Single Parenthood.”. Tune in next time when we tackle another exciting topic. Until then, keep fighting the good fight!


Disclaimer: In case we’ve never met, hi, I’m DubG. Now, before you start thinking I’m some kind of courtroom wizard, let’s clear the air: I’m not a lawyer. I’m just a pro-se warrior who’s battled in the legal arena without a law degree. After three attorneys, $300,000 in debt, and a process that took five years, I ended up representing myself in my divorce for my entire nine-day trial (which spanned nine months) due to complete exhaustion of funds, patience, and sanity. What you’ll read here is all from my own playbook—lessons learned, mistakes made, and a whole lot of BS navigated. But remember, I’m not giving legal advice; I’m just sharing my own twisted journey through the legal system.