Alimony Case Examples – Credits and Offsets
Judges may give credits and offsets to parties in alimony proceedings for a variety of reasons and circumstances. Setoffs, while generally frowned upon, may be ordered if the court finds compelling reasons such as a former spouse making temporary alimony payments or payments for living expenses. However, in cases where one of the parties is the primary wage earner, there may be times when it may be inappropriate for a judge to award a credit such as when it relates to the marital home.
The following three cases will explore how courts have addressed credits and offsets in alimony proceedings.
Former Husband is Entitled to Credit Against His Alimony Obligations For Temporary Alimony Payments
Here, the former Husband filed an appeal based on 1) the trial court’s failure to credit him for temporary alimony payments made between August 2011 and April 2013 and 2) the trial court’s decision on how it categorized a child’s student loans and automobile loans.
In order to give credit for temporary alimony payments, a trial court must make a finding as to how many payments were made and the total amount of credits due. Since the record was unclear as to which months of the 2011-2013 time period the former Husband made alimony payments, the appellate court reversed the trial court and directed the trial court to make that determination.
Additionally, the general rule is that all assets acquired and liabilities incurred by either spouse after the date of their marriage and which are not specifically established as nonmarital, are presumed to be marital assets and liabilities. Therefore, since the parties entered into the loans before the parties petitioned to dissolve their marriage, these obligations were held to be marital debts that should have been included in the equitable distribution determination.
Former Husband Was Entitled to $1,000 Set off Against Retroactive Alimony For Payments Made Toward Wife’s Rent
In this case, the parties were married in 1988 and filed for dissolution of marriage in 2010. The former Husband appealed seeking to have a $1,000.00 payment he made for the wife’s rent set off against his retroactive alimony obligation.
While setoff for alimony payments is generally frowned upon, courts have recognized that setoffs may be appropriate where the court finds compelling equitable criteria. The courts have previously required set-off when one spouse pays the other spouse’s mortgage, and that same rule applies here to the former Husband when he paid the former wife’s rent for one month. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded for the trial court to include the $1,000 paid into any retroactive alimony.
Former Husband Was Not Entitled To Credit Against Monthly Spousal Support Even When He Was Paying The Mortgage and Other Household Expenses
Here, the parties had been married for over 17 years, during which time they had two children who had reached the age of majority prior to the entry of the final judgment. The former Wife worked full-time as a manager at a restaurant, and the former Husband was a veterinarian with his own practice and was the primary wage earner. The former Wife occasionally worked at the veterinary office but was not paid.
After filing for dissolution of marriage, the parties continued to live together with their children in the marital home until 2010. A year later, the marital home was sold in February 2011, but up until then, the former Husband had been paying $6,021.83 each month for household expenses. After the house was sold, the former Husband reduced that payment to $1,700 until the court ordered him to pay $3,500 per month as temporary alimony.
Because he was the primary wage earner, the former Husband was responsible for paying the mortgage and other household expenses during the parties’ marriage. The appellate court found that It was inappropriate for the trial court to award a credit against spousal support to the former Husband for paying the expenses on the marital home during their separation.
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If you and your former spouse are having an issue with whether or not there should be certain credits and offsets applied to an alimony award, then you should consult with an experienced Florida family law attorney to help resolve this issue in an equitable manner.
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