Alimony payments are made to a former spouse in order to support them and maintain their standard of living after a divorce.
The amount and duration of spousal support is determined by a court using a number of factors. These include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity and the standard of living during the marriage.
Length of the Marriage
The length of the marriage has a big impact on how alimony is awarded. Judges will often award spousal support (also called alimony or maintenance) in long-term marriages for an extended period of time – sometimes even a lifetime!
Short-term and moderate-term marriages are more likely to have spousal support limited in duration. In addition, rehabilitative alimony is less likely to be awarded in these cases.
Income inequality is very common in a divorce, and the length of the marriage is one of the most important factors a court must consider in determining alimony. Ultimately, the goal is to allow both parties to live the same standard of living they were used to during their marriage.
Earning Capacity of the Parties
The earning capacity of the parties can be a key factor in determining alimony duration and amount. A party’s income-producing capacity is determined based on age, education, training, skills set, work experience and prior earnings history.
In addition, a party’s earning capacity can be affected by a reduction in income if it is shown that the reduction was not for the purpose of avoiding a support obligation and that good faith efforts were made to find new employment at the party’s previous earning level.
A spouse can also be awarded rehabilitative alimony for the financial costs associated with gaining new skills and education. The goal is to help the spouse obtain the qualifications that will allow them to gain an income that matches their own earning capacity.
Standard of Living
When a judge determines alimony duration and amount, she usually considers the standard of living of the parties at the time of divorce. This can be based on a number of factors, including the parties’ financial resources and how much they earned during the marriage.
A court may also consider a spouse’s contribution to the marriage. This includes child rearing, homemaking, and efforts towards career building.
The standard of living is a tangible, quantifiable measure of how much wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities a country’s people can enjoy. It’s a similar concept to the more subjective term “quality of life,” which can be used to assess happiness.
The law recognizes that it is not always possible for one spouse to maintain their premarital standard of living after divorce. Alimony is the legal mechanism by which this occurs.
The court will consider many factors in determining alimony duration and amount. This includes the ages and health of the parties, each party’s earning capacity, their respective expenses and obligations, the need for a spouse to obtain education or training before getting a job, wasteful dissipation of marital assets, the best way to pay for medical insurance, tax consequences and other relevant considerations.
The most important factor in deciding the length of time a party will receive alimony is determining their economic capacity to make their own way on their own. The best way to determine this is to perform a needs assessment. The resulting report will be used to calculate the length of time and amount of alimony a party deserves in order to meet their financial obligations to the other party.