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Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 4610
Experience:  Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
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I was wondering if there is a way to figure out how much a

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I was wondering if there is a way to figure out how much a judge would award for maintenance in WI. Married for over 30 years, spouse is the main breadwinner by 2 1/2 times. Trying to find out if during discussion on marital distribution, if my spouse is willing to buy me out of house for less than what they would get if we sold the house and is also willing to let me keep retirement account, if a judge would still grant me maintenance equal to maintain the life style I have come accustomed to in over 30 years.
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in WI family court?
Customer: No, we are just working through the financial paperwork that we know is needed and then trying to civilly come to a decision on how to make things work financially.
JA: The Family Lawyer will be able to walk you through that. Have you talked to a lawyer about this yet?
Customer: We met with one who suggested we could just do pro se or mediation if necessary. I've been told by family to just go the traditional way but don't feel it would be necessary if we can just come to an agreement on the maintenance part and I don't want to short myself. So, that is why I am just looking for information on how a judge might rule or a little advise/thoughts on things.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Not that I can think of for now.

Hi, I’m Sean and I will be assisting you as an expert today. I’m an attorney with more than 20 years of experience. It is my goal to provide a solid overview of your situation. Whether the analysis is good or bad as to your matter, I want to make sure you understand any points you need and that you have options to better address the questions you have. If I am able, I will also provide you with some resources. Do note that I may have some initial questions to help me better understand your situation.

So there is not a set way to calculate alimony in Wisconsin. The Court looks as a number of factors that include the income of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the property division of the marital assets, tax consequences, the health of the parties and the ability of the party from whom alimony is requested to pay alimony.

Important note - many folks are under the impression that the measure of alimony is for a supported spouse to remain at the level they have become accustom to during the marriage.

I always let people know that this is not the law and is not something that the judges will or can use.

Rather they look at the factors I set out above and make a determination.

Now, you say that the other party makes 2.5 times you income. Can you quantify that? The reason I ask is that if they makes $15000 a year and you make $6000 a year, the support would be different than if he made $150000 and you made $60000.

As well, though on the duration of the marriage, I would be lead to beleive not, but are there children involved - minor children?

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
There are no minor children involved. So, without giving you actually number at the moment for income it would be more on the 1st set of numbers you mentioned.
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
For now I would like to continue with the typing.

If you are referring to a phone call offer, as noted on the offer, that does not come from me, but from the site. No need to reference it unless you are interested in the call, I can answer any questions here.

Standby.

 

Without numbers it is honestly not possible to determine what an alimony obligation would be.

For example, if a party made $1,000,000 a year and the other party made $50,000 and that is all the information I had, I would not be able to say if it was an alimony case.

In your situation, the duration - 30 years is a very big fact in support of your receiving alimony, but that alone does not automatically mean it is an alimony case (I suspect it is because of the income differential) but the income amounts and an idea on the division of property would be important. For example, if you had nonmarital property that generated or could generate income and you received other liquid assets from the marital estate, that could cause your alimony amount to drop.

That all being said, what a court will also do, as part of the alimony determination will be to examine needs, reasonable needs, moving forward (again the court will not ensure that the same standard of living in the marriage is achieved). They Court will then work to establish and address that going forward.

 

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Ok,I used an online alimony/maintenance and was told that this was not a realistic number due to the way WI now distributes the alimony. It is now taxed on the person paying and the person receiving gets the money tax free. Is this correct?

Be wary of any purported calculator as the Courts in Wisconsin do not use such a method to do it, rather they do it on a case by case basis considering the factors I addressed above. In fact, it is not unusual for two different judges to look at the same information and come to two different numbers. They will likely be close, but they are commonly different.

As well, that information on taxation is also not correct. Based on federal taxation laws, alimony is not taxed or credited to either party when it is paid. If a person making $10 a year pays alimony of $1 a year to a person making $5 a year. The person making $10 pays taxes on $10 and the person making $5 pays taxes on $5. Alimony is a non-taxable event.

 

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
So, I am pretty sure that i would receive some alimony payment due to the information you have stated above. When entering the marriage we were both in school but my spouse was able to continue schooling, yet not graduate. I was not able to continue do to children and therefore found a job later that worked with my lack of education and having children at home. I have been in that career field for over 20 years now and am able to keep my position due to being grandfathered in. If I left and would try to get a job in this field I now I would be declined due to education. So, I guess what I am really trying to find an answer to is, if my spouse is willing to let me keep my retirement, which is double and take 1/3 less buy out for the house, do you think the judge would grant me a alimony on the higher end of things or probably adjust the alimony lower due to the retirement and buy out options? Hopefully that make sense.

It does make sense, but those two are not really comparable. Here is what I mean. Alimony and the division of the property are two different issues.

On a 30 year marriage, all property will be divided 50/50. Not that you would not be able to keep all of your retirement, but it would be offset. If you had a retirement that was $200 and a house that was $300, you may be able to keep all of your retirement, but you would only get $50 from the house. $500 /2 = $250. You have a $200 retirement so you keep that and get $50 to balance.

Then once that is done, the Court would then consider alimony and would only look at the division of property if there are properties that are or could generate income. If you are not drawing the retirement yet, that would likely not impact alimony.

So in your example, I think that even after the offset for the house/retirement you would get alimony without consideration to the property division.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Ok, then if my spouse and I fill out the marital agreement papers and on there it states that we both keep our own retirement accounts, the amount of buy out for the house and an alimony amount and submit that paperwork, are you saying a judge can look at the financial paperwork and overrule our agreement. Or, if it is something that we both obviously agreed upon, the judge is just going to proceed to file the final divorce papers?

Not saying that at all.

There are two ways a court looks at matter.

1 - parties are unable to decide on how matters are to be resolved and a judge has to do everything.

2 - parties decide how they want their issues resolved.

If you and your spouse agree on everything and express to the Court that you want to have them approve it, order it and make is a court order, then the overwhelming likelihood is that it will be approved exactly as you have agreed to.

One of the things judges are able to do is approve agreements that are different than what they would do. So if you have it all spelled out, even if different than what a judge may do, they can, and generally do, approve them.

Sean K and 14 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Thank you. I believe you were able to answer my questions. Have a fantastic day.

It was my pleasure.

Please let me know if you have further questions.

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. There is no specific course of action is proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege formed within this conversation.

If you have any follow up questions it would be my pleasure to answer them. As experts we only get credit for the time and effort we spend on our answers if you rate us positively - 5 stars is definitely appreciated but not required! Feel free to consider a bonus if I exceeded your expectations. There is no cost associated with you rating me and you can still ask follow up questions after rating me and I will respond.

One final point, there may be a delay between your question and my answer; this is because I'm either not at my computer or helping someone else but rest assured, if you ask, I will provide an answer.

From your end, if you could "accept" the answer via the option in the top right, or on mobile devices, select the RATE option at the bottom of the text screen, that would be much appreciated. As well, if there are follow up questions on this topic, post them here. If there are new issues, you can post a new question and designate it for me.

Thanks so much!

Sean K and 14 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you