How Is Alimony Decided?

If you and your spouse are about to face divorce, you may be wondering about spousal support or alimony. Alimony can be ordered as early as the legal separation and may continue for the recipient's lifetime. This form of financial help can mean a major improvement in the life of some spouses, so read on to find out how alimony is decided and how much may be ordered.

Basing alimony on need and contributions

The earning capacity of a requesting spouse is at issue when it comes to this order. If the spouse is unable to continue with the previous standard of living due to the divorce, alimony may be ordered. The family court judge will consider several factors when evaluating the earning potential of a party, such as:

  • Age (older spouses are more likely to get alimony).
  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Marketable workplace skills
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age of the children
  • The ability of the spouse to seek further education or job training skills.
  • Health status (a spouse who is physically or mentally incapacitated or is ill may need the financial support that alimony would afford).
  • The spouse's contribution to the marriage. For example, if the requesting spouse gave up their opportunity to go to college to work and help the other spouse get through college, they contributed to the marriage. Likewise, if the requesting spouse gave up work or educational opportunities to stay home and raise the children of the marriage, they contributed to the marriage.

How children affect alimony

If you and your spouse are the parents of minor children, it could tangentially affect alimony. Since part of the evaluation for alimony includes budgetary concerns, having children could affect the income needs of the requesting spouse in general. However, child support is the form of financial assistance that most applies to the minor children of the marriage.

Requesting alimony with divorce

If you fail to have an alimony provision inserted into your divorce agreement, even if it is for only a token amount, you could miss the chance for getting it entirely. An alimony provision can always be revisited and the amounts can be adjusted (either up or down), but it is far more difficult to have an alimony provision added after the fact.

Other considerations

  1. Alimony is considered taxable income to the recipient and tax-deductible for the provider.
  2. Alimony will usually end when the recipient remarries.
  3. Alimony can be permanent, but often it is temporary and given for a short period of time. In some states, temporary alimony is known as rehabilitative alimony, which gives the receiving spouse an opportunity to get some education or job training.

Speak to your divorce attorney to learn more about alimony. Contact a law office like Granowitz, White & Weber Attorneys at Law for more information and assistance.