Army & Roche
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"Ask an Attorney" with Greg Hill and Larry Army

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For the past few months, I’ve been taking calls and answering legal questions from listeners on my friend Greg Hill’s “Hillman Morning Show” on WAAF 107.3 FM in Boston. Our “Ask an Attorney” segment has become very popular as I’ve been fielding all sorts of questions on a variety of legal topics. We try to have fun with it, and I love bantering with Greg, Danielle and LB. You can listen to some of our segments here: https://waaf.radio.com/tag/ask-attorney.

The phone and text lines light up when we get going and it’s hard to get to all the questions. So I’m going to start answering some of them here in this blog. Here’s one: 

“I’m getting divorced and my soon-to-be-ex-wife is living with her sister and her sister’s family. Does she have to put her sister’s and her sister’s husband’s income on her financial form when we go into court to finalize our alimony agreement?”

The simple answer to this question is that if you’ve made an agreement than I would hope that your lawyer has already discussed with you how you arrived at that alimony figure. If you have questions about your spouse’s financial situation, or do not believe that her financial statement is a true and accurate depiction of her income, assets and liabilities, than I would tell you not to go to court to finalize an agreement on alimony, but to complete your discovery. You should never enter into an agreement, on any issue, until you are wholly comfortable that you have all of the important information at your disposal.

The contributions that your soon to be ex-wife receives from her sister and her sister’s husband does not impact the income which will be used to calculate your baseline alimony obligation. However, there is an argument to be made that assistance which she is receiving from family could impact her need to receive alimony. Unlike child support, alimony is at its core a need based award, and the type of assistance she receives from her family could impact that need. But the court typically is not going to shift the burden of supporting your soon to be ex-wife from you, to her family, as her family are not parties to the divorce process. I’d say, without more information, that even if your wife does list her sister and her sister’s husband’s income on her financial form, those figures will have little to no impact on your alimony obligation.

One way to protect yourself though, is to make sure you use a good family law attorney who has a forensic accountant that can examine all of her assets and sources of income to make sure you are paying the appropriate and fair amount of alimony.