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How to Determine Alimony (also known as Maintenance in some states)

posted by Bedrock Divorce Advisors 10:02 AM
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Professional business women who are the primary bread-winners in the home often wonder if they will need to pay alimony to their husband and if so, how much they will be required to pay.

That is a tough question because the laws vary greatly from state to state.  In some states, there are very explicit guidelines that judges must use to determine the amount and duration of alimony.  In others, they simply list “factors” that a judge should take into consideration when determining alimony.  Also, be aware that some states will consider the fault of the party when determining alimony. For example, if the couple is divorcing because one of them has committed adultery, the court may consider that when determining whether alimony should be paid.  That is one very good reason that you need to speak to a good divorce attorney if you plan to have sexual relations with someone other than your spouse before your divorce is finalized (this can possibly affect both alimony and child custody).

Here are some of the factors a judge might use to decide whether your spouse is eligible for alimony:

1.       The standard of living established during the marriage (One of the primary purposes of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain a lifestyle after their divorce that is relatively comparable to their lifestyle before their divorce.)

2.       Property awarded to each spouse (Alimony is usually determined after the property division has been decided.)

3.       The duration of the marriage

4.       The income and property of each spouse

5.       The ability of the person to become self-supporting

6.       Present and future earning potential of both spouses

7.       Whether there are children living in the home

8.       If there was lost or reduced earning capacity of the person who is asking for alimony/maintenance that resulted from delaying his or her career during the marriage

9.       Tax consequences

10.   Contributions and services of the spouse who is asking for alimony or maintenance

11.   Whether either spouse has wasted marital assets

12.   Actions taken by a spouse in contemplation of the divorce

13.   Any other factor the Court determines is relevant

There is also something called Rehabilitative Alimony, which is often awarded in short-term marriages.

This type of alimony is usually awarded for only a few years and its purpose is to allow the receiving spouse to go back to school or to get job training so that they will quickly be able to support themselves financially.

It is really not possible to know whether you will be required to pay alimony until you consult with an experienced family law attorney and a qualified divorce financial analyst.  If you are contemplating divorce, please call us at 917-602-6977 for a free, 20-minute, no-obligation consultation with one of our Divorce Financial Strategists™.

All content on this site/blog is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney.

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