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Til debt do us part: alimony laws can ravage finances

The rationale behind a divorce is, on a fundamental level, always the establishment of separation, a real degree of distance between both spouses. Personal, professional, and financial lives are disentangled and made solitary again-to a degree. Although divorcing husbands and wives may be seeking new lives on their own, the terms of a divorce can also establish entirely new bonds that tie exes to one another, no matter what.

One such term of divorce that is alimony. Divorced couples all over Texas and across the nation often arrive at a settlement that includes the very old (and some would argue anachronistic) means of spousal support. Alimony payments can leech surprisingly large portions of a divorced person's income, and in some cases continue for decades, even into retirement.

A mainstay of divorces of the past, in times when women rarely became college educated or pursued careers of their own, alimony is intended to guarantee the financial well-being of a partner after they have lost the added household income of their husband or wife. However, some have begun to aggressively challenge the need for alimony in the 21st century, given the change in occupational pursuits for both men and women.

Alimony payments can even keep divorcees from marrying again once they have found a new person right for them. For example, a divorced man who pays monthly alimony to his ex-wife may have his payments adjusted in court to a higher amount that factors in the added income of his new wife-to-be.

In many cases, particularly in the event of one spouse having a disability that makes it impossible for them to secure steady work, alimony payments can be quite justifiable. In others, however, the recipient of thousands of dollars a month in payments may be a fully capable, employed, healthy person who has essentially been awarded annuity payments from their ex-spouse's earnings.

Restructuring of alimony laws has received marked support in some states, particularly ones in which the payments are permanent under current statutes. However, the financially restrictive, often antiquated, and frequently unnecessary payments are still a fact of life for many of the couples divorcing today. Working closely with a family law attorney, however, can better the likelihood of a divorce's terms being set as reasonably as possible.

Source: US News, "Taking the 'Permanent' Out of Permanent Alimony," Geoff Williams, Jan. 23, 2013

  • Our firm can help divorcing spouses navigate the terms of alimony, child support, asset division, and more. For information, contact our Dallas family law page.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Turner, Bruce E.
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Bruce Turner with Bennett, Weston LaJone & Turner, P.C.

Attorney Bruce Turner is located in Dallas and represents people and businesses throughout DFW and the Metroplex, including Denton, Carrollton, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Farmers Branch, Irving, Las Colinas, Corinth, Highland Village, The Colony, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Garland and Grapevine as well as Collin County, Denton County and Dallas County in Texas.

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