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Family law: How to handle varying incomes for spousal support

Getting the right amount of spousal support is important for the person paying and the recipient. When the payer has a steady, reliable income, determining the proper amount may not be too difficult. However, when someone has a variable income or earns from multiple sources, this family law matter can become a lot more complicated.

For example, many companies offer bonuses to new hires as well as to current employees who exceed expectations. It is not uncommon for a bonus to come with a clawback provision. Employees who leave a company early or who fail to meet performance criteria may have to repay that bonus. This means that if a person's clawback bonus was divided as marital property and the person has to later repay it, he or she may be solely responsible for repaying the pre-tax amount. Including precise language in a divorce settlement can outline when both parties might need to split the cost of paying back that bonus and when the recipient would be solely responsible.

With both regular and clawback bonuses, it is important to make sure income is not counted twice. For example, a soon-to-be ex-spouse may insist that a bonus received during the marriage is marital property and, as such, should be divided. If the bonus is also counted among the other spouse's income, then it is being counted twice, and the resulting property division will be skewed.

Many divorcees in Alabama rely on spousal support. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney can be helpful in determining the right amount of support.

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