Written by attorney Matt Miller



The purpose of alimony is to rehabilitate a disadvantaged spouse who will suffer financially following a divorce if financial assistant is not provided in the form of alimony. Generally, a spouse is disadvantaged when he or she has unequal education, work or vocational skills and experience, or is otherwise economically disadvantaged when compared to the other spouse. In such cases, alimony may be sought from the other spouse as a component of the divorce action. Alimony is not automatically awarded in a divorce, but instead, is dependant upon several factors such as:

(1) The relative earning capacity of each spouse, the obligations, needs, and financial resources of each spouse, as well as income from retirement, pensions, and all other sources;

(2) The relative education and training of each party, the ability and opportunities available to each spouse to obtain education, training, and the necessity of either spouse to pursue and obtain additional education and/or training to improve his or her earning capacity;

(3) The duration of the marriage;

(4) The ages and mental conditions of each spouse;

(5) The physical conditions of each spouse, including any physical disabilities and/or any incapacity resulting from a chronic debilitating disease;

(6) The extent to which it would be undesirable or impracticable for either spouse to seek and obtain employment outside the home due to children and either spouse serving as the custodian of children born of the marriage (now termed the primary residential parent);

(7) The separate assets of each spouse including real estate (property/land), and personal property;

(8) The allocation of marital assets and debt and any other provisions made by the court in the divorce action;

(9) The standard of living created and enjoyed during the marriage;

(10) The scope and extent by which each spouse has made both tangible and intangible contributions to the marriage as wage earners, homemakers, and contributions made by one to the other in regard to his or her education, training, development of vocational skills and abilities, and/or increases to the other spouse's earning capacity;

(11) The relative fault of both spouses in causing the marriage to fail, where the court in its discretion, deems the same as relative and appropriate for consideration;

(12) Any other factors necessary to consider the equities between the spouses.

There are different types of alimony. The specific kind of alimony that may be awarded is dependant upon your and your spouse's specific circumstances. Alimony is generally awarded for a specified period of time in a monthly amount. At the conclusion of the designated period alimony terminates. In certain circumstances, the specified period of time may be extended where circumstances have arisen and/or changed and the former spouse receiving the alimony cannot be rehabilitated during the set period for alimony payments. Additionally, dependant upon both the facts and the discretion of the court, permanent alimony may be ordered as opposed to temporary alimony or alimony for a specified period. An award of alimony also may carry tax consequences and may terminate prior to the expiration of the specified period of time upon the occurrence of certain events. As alimony is a complex and important issue that can result in significant financial benefit or consequences, we encourage you to discuss your divorce and alimony issues with an experienced attorney. [email protected]

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