Going through a divorce is tough enough, but having to go through the process of determining alimony can be an additional stressor. Alimony or spousal support can help one spouse financially after a divorce, but getting it can be challenging. This payment helps the spouse with lower earnings keep up with the standard of living during their marriage.
To get fair alimony, you need to understand how to calculate alimony and what factors the court considers. Keep reading for some helpful tips.
Factors Considered in Determining Alimony
Several factors are considered when determining alimony, including but not limited to the following:
-The length of the marriage
-The capacity of each spouse to earn
-The age and health of each spouse
-The contribution of each spouse to the marriage
-The standard of living during the marriage
-The ability of the paying spouse to meet their own needs while still paying alimony
-The ability of the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient
-Any tax consequences associated with awarding alimony
These are just some factors that a court will consider when deciding alimony. Because there are so many factors to consider, it’s essential to have an experienced family attorney on your side who can help you navigate the divorce process and ensure that you get a fair outcome.
Determining Alimony Payment Types
Once you understand what factors are considered in awarding alimony, you need to determine what type of alimony payments are appropriate. Some states have four types of alimony that they grant in a divorce case:
This alimony helps a spouse transition from being married to single. The court typically awards bridge-the-gap payments for a short period, such as six months or one year. While the payments can help with immediate needs, they are not intended to be a long-term solution.
The law awards rehabilitative alimony when a spouse needs financial assistance to gain skills or training that will allow them to become self-sufficient. The payments are typically made for a set time, such as two years, and end when the receiving spouse becomes employed. This type of alimony can be modified if the circumstances of either spouse change.
Durational payments are made when one spouse can’t become self-sufficient, or permanent periodic payments would be unfair. Durational payments last for a set period and end when that period expires. For example, if the court ordered ten-year durational payments and the recipient remarries after five years, the payments would stop. Because durational alimony is a temporary solution, you can’t modify it.
4. Permanent periodic
Permanent periodic payments are just what they sound like—payments made regularly until either party dies or remarries. These payments are typically only ordered in long marriages (20 years or more). While the payments are permanent, you can modify them under certain circumstances.
Calculating Alimony Payments
Now that you know what type of alimony payments may be ordered in your divorce, you need to figure out how much will be paid. The amount of alimony is typically calculated by considering the receiving spouse’s need and the paying spouse’s ability to pay. If you and your spouse can reach an alimony agreement, that’s great. However, if you can’t agree, the court will make the final decision.
The amount of alimony you receive will also depend on the type of payments ordered. Some states have guidelines that judges use to calculate alimony, while others give judges a great deal of discretion when making decisions about this payment. If you live in a state with alimony guidelines, the judge will likely use those guidelines to calculate the amount of alimony you receive.
However, even in states with alimony guidelines, there is still room for negotiation. If you live in a state that doesn’t have alimony guidelines, the judge will have a great deal of discretion when making decisions about alimony. This means that you and your spouse will need to present your individual needs and abilities to pay to the court, and the court will decide based on what it believes is fair.
Avoiding Alimony Pitfalls
Although alimony can be a helpful way to support a spouse after divorce financially, it’s not without its pitfalls. Some people who are ordered to pay alimony fall behind on their payments, which can lead to serious consequences. If ordered to pay alimony, keep up with your payments. If you can’t make a payment, contact your spouse or attorney as soon as possible to find a solution.
Other people find that they are paying more alimony than they can afford. If you think the amount of alimony you’re paying is too high, you may be able to modify your payments.
Alimony can be a complicated and stressful part of getting divorced, but it doesn’t have to be if you take the time to understand how it works. Knowing what factors are considered in awarding alimony and what type of payment would be appropriate in your situation, you can increase your chances of getting a fair amount of support from your ex-spouse.