Learn More about Spousal Support and Alimony Options

Learn More about Spousal Support and Alimony Options

When a married couple gets a divorce, the court can award alimony – also called spousal support – to one of the former spouses. This is usually based on a decision between the couple or the court itself. Read on to learn more about different options when it comes to spousal support and alimony.

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The Purpose of Alimony

The reason alimony is awarded to an individual is to limit any unfair financial effects of a divorce by providing income to a spouse who doesn’t work or a spouse who earns significantly less than the other spouse. One spouse may have decided to put off going to school to stay home with the kids, and they need time to develop job skills to support him or herself, so  alimony would help them get back into the workforce. Another purpose might be to help one of the spouses continue a reasonable standard of living that they were used to when they were married.

How the Amount of Alimony is Determined

Unlike child support (which in most states is controlled by very specific monetary guidelines), courts have the option to determine whether or not to award alimony. They also have the freedom to decide how much is awarded, and for how long.

Generally, the court will consider the following information in determining if a party is entitled to spousal support:

  • Respective ages of the parties
  • Earning ability of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage and conduct of the parties during their marriage
  • Station in life
  • Circumstances and necessities of each party
  • Health and physical condition of each party
  • Financial circumstances as shown by the property owned at the time and its value at the time/income-producing capacity (if any)
  • And other factors.

Other Considerations

Alimony may be ordered to be paid only until the other spouse is able to support him/herself, or it may be ordered on a permanent basis. If the divorce decree doesn’t specify a support termination date, the payments must continue until the courts say otherwise. Most awards end if the recipient remarries or dies. If the payer passes away, termination of alimony isn’t necessarily automatic.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, the issue of alimony will more than likely come up. If you’d like to discuss the possibility of paying or receiving alimony, reach out to one of our attorneys at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss Attorneys. We have attorneys who can help you understand what your options are. We want you to have the best outcome for your case.

 

Image courtesy of PhilRoeder/Flickr.

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