Alimony Usually Doesn't Include a Savings Aspect

Article excerpt

Q: My husband and I are splitting up after more than 25 years of marriage. Although I live in a "no-fault" state, the reason for our breakup has been his relationship with a woman who works in his office. I have a degree in education but have not worked outside the home for 20 years at his insistence. I am 51 years of age and in relatively good health, but the job market does not seem to be kind to women of my age in my situation.

Mostly because of my frugality, we were able to save 15 percent of his salary each year in addition to his retirement. My lawyer tells me that I will receive alimony that is commensurate with my needs, but that I will not be entitled to receive an amount that allows me to save, which was included in our standard of living while we were together.

This does not seem to be fair to me, especially based on what I read about women and retirement. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?

A: The purpose of alimony is to act as a substitute for marital support and to provide for the needs and necessities of life for a former spouse that were established during the marriage. Although the criteria used to establish economic need varies from state to state, courts generally consider each party's earning capacity, age, health and education; the length of the marriage; the standard of living during the marriage; the value of the division award given to each; and the support needs.

Our research tells us that courts have traditionally not considered a "savings component" as a factor in establishing alimony, taking the position that the accumulation of marital assets brought about by frugality is considered in the equitable division award. …