Summary in Divorce

Income is a consideration in every divorce. Couples who are divorcing must realize that the income that once supported one household now will support two.

In a divorce, the income of the parties come into play in a marital dissolution. After the marital estate is divided, alimony is set and to determine alimony, courts consider a variety of factors, including the incomes of the spouses, particularly the incomes of the economically stronger spouse (who is usually the husband) and the economically weaker partner (who is often the wife).

Courts consider the incomes of the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent in determining child support. In determining child support, sometimes courts impute income to one or both parents when one or the other contends that he or she cannot work or no longer has the income he or she had at the onset of the action.

In the property division of a divorce, states treat the income of spouses in one of two ways. In the nine community property states, spouses have a claim against the income of each other; in the 41 equitable distribution equitable distribution states, a spouse’s income is his or her own. Generally speaking, courts in equitable distribution jurisdictions have latitude in considering the distribution of property and may consider the disparities of income between the spouses in the division of property.

Changes in income occasioned by retirement, illness or injury, may be grounds for modification of either alimony or child support. Increases or decreases can work to the advantage or disadvantage of either the payor or the payee, depending on the situation.

A divorcing couple who are nevertheless married on the last day of the year must decide whether to file a joint income tax return or separate income tax returns.

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#461: Property settlement agreements are not generally modifiable once incorporated into a final decree of divorce. Issues like custody and child support are, but issues involving property and debt distribution are typically not. Do not rely on the ability to appeal a divorce order.
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