How Alimony May Be Determined Between Divorcing Couples

Alimony is money paid from one spouse to the other in order to support daily living. The spouse receiving the financial assistance may require help due to having less financial resources. Alimony may also be referred to as “spousal support”. When a married couple goes through the process of divorce, one spouse may be awarded alimony if they are unable to support themselves without the other spouse’s help. Alimony can become quickly confusing for any spouse that is trying to understand the ins and outs of this financial support. A major question couples may have is what factors contribute to how much, and for how long alimony is awarded. 

Here in the article below, we have answered a series of questions about alimony that many soon-to-be divorced couples may have.

What are factors in a judge’s decision for alimony? 

The laws pertaining to alimony can vary depending on which state you live in. But overall, there are a set of factors often used by judges to decide how much and for how long alimony is to be awarded to the spouse in financial need. The most common factors for this decision are listed here: 

  1. The term of the marriage
  2. The degree of a spouse’s need for financial support, and the degree to which the other spouse can pay 
  3. The age of each spouse
  4. The physical and/or emotional health of each spouse
  5. The standard of living created throughout the marriage
  6. Each parent’s current responsibilities in regards to taking care of children
  7. Each spouse’s capacity to earn money
  8. Each spouse’s level of education 
  9. The distribution of marital property among the spouses

When are alimony payments to be received?

Depending on the situation, a spouse may start to receive financial support before the divorce has been finalized. If you and your spouse are not able to agree on temporary spousal support in the midst of the divorce process, a written request can be submitted to the court for a decision to be made. This formal request is called a “pendente lite.” The intention of temporary alimony is to help the spouse with financial dependency afford to pay rent, mortgage, utilities and other debts. This temporary support can help the spouse uphold his or her standard of living until the divorce is finalized. 

Can an alimony amount be changed? 

Yes, an alimony award can be changed, permitted there is no order within the spousal support or divorce judgement that blocks a modification. If either spouse requests the alimony order to be updated, they may have to show up in court and prove a significant change in circumstances has occurred. Here are examples of circumstances that may result in an authorization of alimony being changed: 

  • There has been a substantial increase or decrease in a spouse’s income
  • A spouse has become ill or disabled
  • The spouse receiving alimony has become remarried
  • The spouse paying alimony has become retired
  • Either spouse has passed away