Do legal changes remove the incentive to pay alimony?

Technically, people should not need an incentive to make their alimony payments and to make them on time. They're legally obligated to do so by the court order. That's all the incentive they need.

However, some experts are worried that recent changes to the law could make people less likely to pay.

One advantage of paying alimony, in previous years, was that you could write it off as a deduction on your taxes. So, while you didn't get that money, you at least could reduce what you paid in taxes. It was something of a benefit, as your ex covered the cost when reporting that alimony as taxable income.

The law has now been flipped around. Your ex will not have to report it and pay taxes, and you cannot use it as a deduction. This means you pay everyone -- first the government and then your ex. It all comes out of your pocket. That's why one expert said:

"There is no incentive to pay alimony now. It's really all just money out of the pocket for the payer … [it's] harder to encourage that when you have no benefit to exchange."

Again, while people do not need an incentive, they may now feel that alimony payments are very unfair and that the system is stacked against them. That could lead to some problems and an increase in legal disputes.

No matter which side of this equation you're on, you need to know how these changes to the law are going to impact your rights and obligations after a divorce.

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