How Alimony Works in Connecticut
Many people wonder about how alimony (also referred to as “spousal support”) works when they are in the initial stages of deciding to divorce or divorcing. Unlike in some other states, there is no formula for alimony in Connecticut.
What is Alimony?In Connecticut, alimony is money paid by one spouse to another (either during the divorce, or upon the divorce becoming final), towards the other spouse's living expenses. It can be limited to a term of years or payable for a lifetime, depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
The FactorsUnlike in some other states, there is no formula for alimony in Connecticut. Instead, there are multiple factors that the court considers. While income plays an important role in the determination of alimony, alimony is a much more complex proposition. Other factors include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s age, health, and need for support, causes of the divorce, earning capacity of the spouses, property division in the divorce, and the existence of prenuptial agreements, among others. Judges may take these factors into consideration when determining whether there will be alimony, and, if so, the amount of alimony and the length of time during which it will be paid. Judges have broad discretion in awarding alimony -- they need not give each factor equal weight.
In addition to the statutory factors, Connecticut case law on alimony is dynamic and evolving, so when you hire counsel you want to make sure you find a legal team well-versed in the nuances.
Three Main Types of Alimony in ConnecticutJudges in Connecticut can order three types of alimony: (1) temporary alimony while the divorce is pending (also called "pendente lite"), (2) rehabilitative (relatively short-term), and (3) permanent. When determining whether any type(s) of alimony are appropriate, the court will consider the various factors explained above.
Depending on their situation, some spouses have alimony orders in place while a divorce is pending. The pendente lite alimony award is not necessarily indicative of what the post-divorce spousal support order (if any) will look like.
Rehabilitative support is generally an element in cases where the lesser-earning spouse can become self-supporting, but needs time and financial support to do so. The recipient spouse may receive rehabilitative support while attending school or obtaining the necessary professional skills to enter or re-enter the job market. Rehabilitative support may phase down or end as the court determines to be appropriate.
Permanent alimony used to be more common, but is now becoming increasingly rare. In the past (and in some marriages today), one spouse can’t become self-supporting after the divorce, due to advanced age, disability, or some other reason that decreases earning capacity. In cases where one spouse can’t become financially independent, the court may require the other spouse to provide financial support permanently.
Next StepsAs an aside, many people at the initial stages of this process share that they “feel stuck.” They describe seeking out answers to their legal problems from different sources – like here on Avvo or from friends and family – but get to a point where they realize that the specific facts of their situation and goals are unique to them, and that no source online is directly relevant. It can be quite stressful. Working with an experienced divorce attorney can close that gap and set you up so that you are well-equipped to tackle the alimony issue, and others.