When couples divorce, they often have disputes about alimony. These disputes can be contentious, costly and stressful.
Men have traditionally received less spousal support than women, but this is changing. Today, more men are receiving spousal support than ever before.
1. The Judge’s Decision
Alimony is a form of financial support that is awarded by a judge to one spouse in divorce. Generally, this is meant to help the recipient pay their basic living expenses while they are going through a divorce.
The judge is expected to consider a variety of factors when making this decision. For example, the judge will take into account both spouses’ earning capacity.
This means looking at both spouses’ education, training, experience, job skills, and the local market demand for those skill sets.
Many judges look at these things together to determine a reasonable amount of alimony. Typically, they will also add back a spouse’s savings to determine what he or she can afford to pay.
The judge will also take into consideration the length of the marriage. If the marriage lasted for 10 years or more, he or she may consider awarding permanent spousal support.
2. The Recipient’s Needs
One of the key questions for many couples seeking divorce is whether or not the higher-earning spouse will get alimony. In most cases, the answer is yes.
In addition to calculating spousal support payments, judges must consider the recipient’s needs. This means they must consider how much money the lower-earning spouse will need to support their current lifestyle.
The court must also consider what the lower-earning spouse’s ability to earn is, given their education, training, experience, and job skills. Judges must weigh the recipient’s ability to earn against their debts and obligations, as well as their ability to provide support for a child of the marriage.
Ultimately, alimony is meant to help the lower-income spouse become self-supporting. For this reason, some courts order alimony for only as long as it takes to allow the recipient to acquire the education, training or work experience necessary to achieve this goal.
3. The Recipient’s Ability to Pay
Alimony payments are typically made to an ex-spouse for a set period of time. Depending on the state, these payments can be periodic or one-time, and they may be paid in cash or transferred to the recipient spouse’s marital property.
Most courts require judges to consider both the income and earning capacity of each spouse when determining spousal support orders. That means the judge is looking at each spouse’s current and future earning potential, taking into account education, training, experience, and the local demand for those skills.
A judge also considers each spouse’s reliance on the other to provide for their needs, whether it be in the form of housing, child care, health insurance, food, or transportation. The judge will usually award rehabilitative alimony, which is designed to help a spouse become self-sufficient.
4. The Recipient’s Disabilities
Alimony payments are meant to help a spouse with lower earnings maintain a lifestyle similar to what they had during the marriage. The amount of alimony will be determined by a judge based on the length of the marriage and the recipient’s income.
If one of the parties has a disability, this can have an impact on their alimony payments. The recipient can apply for a modification to decrease their alimony payment if their disability has made it difficult for them to meet their financial obligations.
Rehabilitative alimony is typically paid while the lower-earning spouse attempts to increase their employment chances through education or training or while on a job search. This type of alimony usually ends after a certain period of time or when the payee becomes self-supporting.
There are also some instances when a person can no longer receive their monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits due to divorce. In these situations, the court may garnish your SSI benefits to cover spousal support or child support.