Alimony (also referred to as maintenance or spousal support) is usually based on the needs and circumstances of the individuals involved. Although what each state factors in for alimony varies widely, the basic point of alimony is to determine if one of the two spouses has a legitimate and verifiable need for extra income. If you are in the middle of a divorce and are seeking alimony, these are some factors that will play into your case.
Ability to Pay and Need
When considering the issue of alimony, the court will consider if each spouse will be able to maintain their new life roughly like their married lifestyle without assistance. For alimony to be awarded, it cannot be a situation where the paying spouse would be impoverished by payments. In addition, alimony will not be awarded unless the spouse receiving the alimony would be at a disadvantage without receiving the award. Both of these requirements must be met, since the objective is to create a standard of living that's more or less equal for both spouses.
Another important point to keep in mind is that alimony is almost always determined following the division of marital property. If this division of marital property leaves both spouses in a position where they don't need additional support, the court is unlikely to order alimony payments.
Length of the Marriage
An alimony award will also depend on how long the marriage lasted. With short marriages, judges usually want to simply set things back to what they were before the marriage. However, if a couple has been married for 20 years, this is a different situation. It might be impossible for one of the two individuals to support themselves in the way they did prior to the marriage. For instance, if one of the two was out of the workforce for that entire time, he or she may no longer have the necessary skill-set to quickly secure a good paying position.
Even if the court determines that there is a genuine need for alimony, it may decide to award alimony on a temporary basis. This means it will be provided only for a given period of time (usually long enough for the recipient to improve their earnings ability). In some states, vocational evaluations are part of the process of figuring out how quickly a spouse will be able to support him or herself without assistance.
If you have any questions or concerns about alimony, a professional, like Law Office of Diane F. Russell, can help you figure out your options.