An old saying proposes that “numbers never lie.” They may not, but they can be deceiving. That is one of the reasons why you should avoid jumping to conclusions in your legal case, but instead talk to an experienced Florida family law attorney. Even if some of the numbers on your and your spouse’s financial disclosures seem to be stacked firmly against you, there may be other factors and other numbers that can sway the outcome in your favor.
The case of A.L. and T.L. is an example. In 2015, T.L. filed for divorce from A.L., her husband of 36 years. In her divorce petition, the wife asked for permanent alimony in the amount of $1,000 per month.
The husband’s financial documentation indicated that he made roughly $3,000 per month after taxes, and had monthly expenses of $5,937. The court deducted $1,553 of those expenses because they related to bills that the husband was not actually paying at the time (as those bills were connected to a home that was in foreclosure.) Nevertheless, that still left the husband with $4,382 in monthly expenses, meaning he had a monthly deficit of more than $1,300.
The court found that the wife, on the other hand, had only $1,764 in monthly income but only $1,694 in monthly expenses, meaning that she had a monthly surplus of $70. The trial judge concluded that the wife “had a need” for alimony and that the husband “had an ability to pay,” ordering the husband to pay $1,250 per month in permanent alimony.
The husband appealed. The appeals court’s ruling includes two important things you should know about alimony. First, if you are the party pursuing alimony, there are several factors recognized by the statutes that you can use to establish your entitlement to alimony, so do not give up simply because the financial statements don’t seem to be in your favor.
Even though A.L. and T.L.’s financial statements showed a wife with income that exceeded her monthly expenses and a husband who was four figures “in the red” every month, the appeals court said there was still enough proof to support a ruling that the wife had a need and the husband had an ability to pay. That proof in this case included the facts that the marriage lasted 36 years, that the wife was in poor physical health and that the wife had “minimal assets compared to” the husband. According to the courts, this was enough to justify ordering the husband to pay the wife $1,000 per month until she died or remarried.
The appeals court did reduce the monthly amount from $1,250 to $1,000. Trial judges can award recipient spouses alimony in excess of the amount requested in their filings, but there must be special evidence to support such an outcome. For example, if a spouse seeking alimony had experienced a financial downturn in the months since filing her petition, then evidence of that could justify an award in excess of the amount requested. In this case, though, the wife had actually experienced an improvement in her financial situation since she filed, so there was no way she could be entitled to more than the $1,000 she asked for.
Winning your alimony case includes many different factors and a variety of types of evidence, and is not just based on what’s on the parties’ financial disclosures. Achieving a successful result requires knowledge of the facts but also an in-depth knowledge of the law and how to apply it. For the skillful legal representation you deserve, call upon the experienced Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys have many years of achieving positive results in alimony and other family law cases. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.