Tulsa Attorney BlogIn Oklahoma, How Much Alimony Can I Expect to Pay?

Alimony Can Depend on Income


divorce lawyer in TulsaVideo Transcribed: How much alimony am I expected to pay in Oklahoma? I’m Tulsa Attorney James Wirth, and that’s the question that we have is, how much is this spouse support going to be? How much is the alimony going to be? And the question is, you don’t always know.

The judge has wide discretion in determining what is appropriate. So I can give you the guidelines that the law says the judge needs to go by. But ultimately, there are no set-in-stone guidelines that say what the amount is going to be. So in Oklahoma, if it’s a child support issue, you’ve got the child support guidelines. You plug in certain figures, and it spits out the amount, and that’s what it is unless you can convince the court to deviate from that, which is very difficult.

For spousal support, there are no calculators. There are no guidelines. Some people talk about the length, having a rule of thumb of one-third the size of the marriage of how long spouse support could be. But that’s by no means a rule. It’s very specific to the circumstances and the judge and what the judge believes appropriate. But here’s what the law provides. In order to get spouse support, there has to be a demonstrated need by the recipient. Do you want to look at, what’s their income? What are their bills? How much underwater are they? Then from the other side, you’re going to look at, what is the ability to pay the person paying. What are their bills? What are their expenses? How much do they have left over to pay for that?

They’re going to look at those two figures, determine the reasonableness of the income and the expenses, and assuming that it’s reasonable on both sides, you’re going to look at those amounts, and that’s going to determine probably what an appropriate amount is. If they’ve got a need of $500, he’s got an excess of $500, then it’s very likely the court’s going to order $500. But you can attack her income or his income depending on what the circumstances are and who’s requesting it. If the person is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, you can make arguments that they should be imputed to a higher income for the purposes of doing this calculation. If they’ve got expenses on there that are absurd like, “They don’t need this much. They’re living in a much higher standing of living than the other party is. There’s no need for that.”

Then the judge can say, “Nah, I’m not going to account for those expenses.” Or you can argue they shouldn’t account for those expenses and reduce those out. But ultimately, once they determine reasonable income, reasonable expenses, reasonable income, reasonable expenses, how much do you have in excess at the end of every month? How much do you have underwater at the end of each month? You’re going to look at those numbers for determining what a reasonable amount is. And then as far as duration, as I said, some people talk about a rule of thumb or one-third of the length of the marriage. That by no means is a rule. The judge has wide discretion on how long it should be. But what the law says the judge should be looking at is, what is it going to take to be rehabilitative for that party. Spouse support in Oklahoma is never forever. It is always set for a set amount.

So the court’s looking out, what is the plan to use this money to get you on your feet, so you’re independent, supporting yourself at the end of the term of that spousal support? And how long should that spouse support be in order to effectuate that plan? So if there’s a plan to go back to school, get a new degree, then the court may agree with, “Well, let’s go for the duration it’s going to take to complete that program, to get a job, to get back on your feet.” So those are the arguments that are going to be made on each side. And determining the duration is, what will it take to rehabilitate that spouse to get them back on their feet? All right.

So if you’ve got questions about spouse support in Oklahoma, the general information in the video is nice to have, but it’s not going to be enough for personalized legal advice. For that, you want to talk to an Oklahoma divorce attorney privately and confidentially. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you can go online to makelaweasy.com.

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