What If My Spouse Does Not Make Enough Money To Pay Alimony – Is There Anything I Can Do?
As divorce attorneys, we often deal with alimony issues. When litigating alimony, we evaluate the statutory factors to determine if a spouse is eligible for alimony. If a spouse if otherwise eligible to receive alimony, we then evaluate a requesting spouse’s financial need vs. the paying party’s ability to pay.
Within this process, we often see spouses who try to manipulate their income to present an inability to pay alimony. Alternatively, we also see divorces where one spouse has a true need; however, the second spouse simply does not have the ability to pay. This is common because two persons can maintain one household much more easily than they can maintain two households.
When this scenario presents itself, there are statutory options for the court, i.e., the award of “nominal alimony.” This type of alimony is unique. In this instance, the Court will award the needy spouse a “nominal” amount of money which is typically something like $10 per month or $100 per year. Nominal alimony is meant to preserve space for future alimony modification, and it is a
placeholder of sorts. This way, if the second spouse’s income increases in the future, the requesting spouse can file a new action with the court and ask that nominal alimony be modified to another type of alimony. Read on to learn more.
In Florida, alimony is usually awarded if one spouse is in need and the other has the ability to make payments. When the requirement of “ability to pay” is not met at the time of the divorce, the Court can award nominal alimony. Typically, the Court will award nominal alimony when the court believes that the paying spouse’s circumstances might improve in the future, though this is within the court’s discretion.
With this form of alimony, a judge might ask one spouse to pay a very small amount of money to the other spouse. For example, the court may order a spouse to pay $1 or $10 a year until he or she can pay a larger amount. Of course, such an amount is too little to support a spouse. But, nominal alimony isn’t meant to support a spouse financially. The main reason a judge would order nominal alimony is that he or she believes a spouse has the legal right to receive alimony payments and wants to preserve that right. In Florida, if no alimony is awarded in the final divorce agreement, an individual cannot come back and ask to modify alimony. So, when nominal alimony is granted, the court also reserves jurisdiction to revisit alimony, and thus, the requesting spouse can easily petition the court to modify alimony when the former spouse’s financial situation improves.
It is up to the court to decide to award nominal alimony. If the court is evaluating a long-term marriage, there is a higher probability that nominal alimony will be awarded. Again, these matters are within the broad discretion of the court.
If you are requesting alimony and you believe your spouse either has an inability to pay or is trying to manipulate his or her income to avoid paying alimony, you should contact an experienced attorney to talk about the possibility of a nominal alimony award. If you manage to get a nominal alimony award, you can come back and modify the award at a later date. After you file your petition and the court determines that your spouse’s income is higher, you may be able to receive the alimony you requested.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Alimony Lawyer
If your spouse is pretending he or she doesn’t make any money to get out of paying alimony, contact a Jacksonville alimony lawyer at The Lasky Law Firm to discuss whether you have a chance of convincing the court to award you nominal alimony.