Alimony and Division of Assets When Getting a Divorce During the Pandemic
When spouses contemplate divorce, alimony and asset division tend to be among the areas most contested, particularly in instances in which substantial sums of money are involved. An unstable economic environment, such as the one brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, only makes these questions more challenging to deal with.
Establishing alimony amid the pandemic
Whether you have a pre-existing alimony agreement in place or plan to draft a new one, the pandemic can have implications for your ability to pull in an income or to precisely calculate your ability to pay alimony. For the party that is to receive alimony, the economic uncertainty that is part of the pandemic can make it hard to determine how much they can hope to make on their own, and how much support they will need.
In addition, the pandemic can affect the health of the parties seeking divorce, as well, complicating the possibility of confident personal financial forecasts. The law, as such, offers no guidance on how these factors may be incorporated into the determination of alimony awards.
Dividing up the marital assets in a pandemic divorce
The earning capacity of spouses planning divorce tends to be far from the only area of uncertainty during a pandemic. The instability of the economy can also make it complicated for divorcing couples to determine what their assets are worth. While the marital home may hold up its value, a business owned by one of the spouses may face an uncertain future, upsetting calculations to do with how much value it presents. Even in the event that the parties involved hire property appraisers, accountants, and other experts to offer valuations, the volatility of the current situation can result in divergent views among different experts, making property division calculations unpredictable.
In these circumstances, a divorce attorney may recommend a divorce mediator, a neutral third-party, who is able to help disagreeing spouses see eye-to-eye. Arriving at a resolution as early as possible could help both spouses ensure that marital assets aren’t frittered away during litigation.
In many cases, attorneys guiding couples through divorce during the pandemic recommend sidestepping confusion regarding the valuation of assets by dividing them up by percentage, rather than by dollar value. A Property Management Agreement, in addition, could help set out how maintenance, insurance, and other property-related expenses, can be divided up.
Alimony orders may be modifiable
In general, court-awarded alimony in Florida is modifiable unless specified otherwise, or unless there is no alimony awarded in the first place. Sometimes, however, parties to divorce proceedings negotiate their own alimony agreements. Such agreements tend to be unmodifiable, unless they specifically include language stating otherwise. If a divorcing couple chooses such an agreement over involving the court, it’s important, especially in these pandemic times, to make sure that it requires the party paying alimony to buy and maintain disability insurance and life insurance in the event that an infection should cause disability or death.
It’s also important to keep in mind that in the event an alimony order is violated during the pandemic, the court may not be in a position to enforce the order if court activities are suspended.
The effects of the pandemic on considerations to do with divorce proceedings aren’t likely to last very long. In the event that the pandemic should persist longer than expected, however, agreements on alimony and division of property are only likely to become more complicated than they already are. Going ahead with divorce plans sooner, rather than later, may make sense. An experienced divorce attorney can give you the guidance you need.
Abstract: If you plan to file for divorce during the pandemic, it’s important to understand going in how the pandemic may change the way alimony and division of assets may work for you. The uncertain economic climate may result in financial difficulties that affect an ability to pay alimony, for example, and assets like businesses owned may lose value. It’s important to talk to an experienced attorney about how the pandemic may affect your plans.