What is Alimony?
If you’re in the process of filing for divorce, you may be ordered to pay alimony. Alimony is not awarded in every divorce case, as it depends on the financial circumstances of both parties. Even if alimony is awarded, it most likely won’t have to be paid out forever. Whether you’re the individual looking for alimony, or one who may be ordered to pay it, here is a brief overview on alimony and what you can expect either on the paying or the receiving end.
Purpose of Alimony
The intention of alimony is to limit the unfair financial effect of a divorce by providing income to the lower or non-wage-earning spouse. Part of this reasoning is that because one spouse may have opted to forego a career in order the care for children, she or he may need time to develop a skill that can provide a self-sustaining income. Another reason is to provide the spouse with the same lifestyle he or she became accustomed to during the marriage.
The courts will take these factors into consideration when determining whether or not to award alimony. But, the courts will also expect that the recipient of alimony prepares herself or himself to re-enter the job market and not live off of the alimony payments for an overly long period of time.
Determining Alimony Amounts
While child support is calculated according to certain guidelines established by the state, courts have more discretion when determining how much to award in spousal support. However, most states follow the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, which recommends the court consider the following when determining the amounts to be awarded:
- The spouse’s income and employment opportunity.
- The couple’s standard of living before the divorce.
- How long the couple was married.
- Misconduct during the marriage, such as abuse or adultery.
- The needs of any children in the marriage at both the time of the divorce and in consideration of the future.
Length of Time to Pay Alimony
Alimony is sometimes referred to as “rehabilitative” so that it’s only ordered for as long as the receiving spouse needs it. If the divorce decree does not specify an exact date of when the payments will end, the payments continue until the court says otherwise.
Alimony Is Not Just for Women
Many times, people think of alimony as a payment made by the husband to the wife, but that’s not always the case. Many times men take time off from their career to raise the children because the wife has the better paying job. If this is your situation, you may be able to collect alimony while you’re preparing yourself for re-entry into the workforce.
If you’re looking to extend or end alimony, it’s best to consult with a divorce lawyer you can rely on. We can help advise you on your rights when it comes to both paying and receiving alimony and help determine a fair period for how long the alimony payments should last.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Smith & Weer, P.C. for their insight into alimony and family law practice.