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Calculating Spousal Support (Alimony)

Posted by attorney Christopher Salcido

Either party may request and be granted alimony. Regardless of gender, alimony may be ordered on a temporary basis, pending trial, as well as for a longer period after entry of the Decree of Divorce.

In determining alimony, the courts consider at least the following factors:

  • The financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse. This includes the monthly debts and obligations which the recipient spouse is required to pay and the availability of funds to pay these debts.

  • The recipient's earning capacity or ability to produce income. This includes income received or available from all sources; the past employment history; ability or inability to work; passive income received; etc.

  • The ability of the payor spouse to provide support. This includes the income received from all sources by the payor spouse examined against all of the debts and obligations which the payor spouse is required to pay. Debts may not be incurred, as a general rule, to defeat alimony.

  • The length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the greater the likelihood of an alimony award.

Additionally, the courts may consider the fault of the parties in determining alimony.

The courts, as a general rule, look at the standard of living that existed at the time of separation in determining alimony. In marriages of short duration, with no children conceived or born, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time of the marriage. There are times when the courts will attempt to equalize the parties' respective standards of living. Alimony may be reviewed and modified as conditions change and as warranted. Alimony terminates automatically upon remarriage or cohabitation by the recipient spouse. Alimony is not to be ordered for duration longer than the length of the marriage, except in extenuating circumstances.

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