Alimony is a type of spousal support that can be paid before or after divorce or marital separation occurs, though typically after. Before going through a divorce, it’s important that you understand all there is to know about alimony and what factors into the amount that will need to be paid.
There are a Huge Variety of Factors That Determine the Total Alimony Amount
Alimony is typically reserved for divorced couples wherein one spouse made much more money than the other spouse throughout the marriage. This is designed to ensure that the dependent is able to support themselves following a divorce or separation. Modern alimony differs greatly from what it was like in the past, due partially to greater equality in pay among men and women, as well as continued changes in law throughout most of the country in an attempt to make alimony regulations fairer.
There are a lot of factors that go into how much someone will have to pay in alimony, as well as the period over which it must be paid. The following is just a glimpse at the factors that can go into the final alimony decision. One of the primary factors is how long the marriage or civil union lasted. In general, it’s believed that the shorter the marriage, the smaller the period of paid alimony. There are times when this can be turned into permanent alimony if the divorce occurs after ten years of marriage. While many states provide the ruling judge with a set of guidelines on alimony, the final decision is made entirely by the judge in question.
The age of both parties is also taken into account. Spouses that are younger are typically viewed by a judge as able to support themselves independently, which is why a shorter alimony term is oftentimes agreed upon. It’s important to understand that separation while still being married is oftentimes counted as a part of the total marriage. As such, five years of separation following a five year marriage will generally be counted as ten years of marriage.
Within the majority of U.S. states, the decision on alimony also takes into account the income disparity between the spouses. These states recognize the right of each spouse to live in accordance with what they’ve become accustomed to. The income disparity between the two can be altered by the judge to best reflect these lifestyles. Poor health can also factor into the amount and duration of alimony, as one spouse may not have the ability to support themselves in the future. One of the largest factors is who was at fault for the divorce. If a fault for the divorce has been recognized, alimony can change dramatically. For instance, if a spouse who would typically be provided with alimony had an affair that ended the marriage, the judge may drastically reduce the total alimony amount or eliminate it altogether.
Alimony Guidelines and Requirements Differ Between States
When it comes to alimony, guidelines for the judge are typically left to each state to decide for themselves. While this may be a good solution, understanding how alimony will affect you can be tricky if you aren’t aware of exact state guidelines. Certain states, including Maine and Florida, are beginning to cease permanent alimony awards. Instead, they are using rehabilitative or durational awards in its place. States like Tennessee and Mississippi still award permanent alimony. “Whether alimony should be permanent or based on duration of time is currently a hot button issue throughout the U.S., so you should expect guidelines to change in many states over the coming years,” said Widrig Law PLLC.
In some states, like Massachusetts, laws have recently been passed that put limits around alimony durations, while also creating various categories of alimony. Maine, Texas and several other states have a no-fault clause within their alimony laws, which means that fault doesn’t factor into the final decision. To best understand how different state laws could affect you, you should consider contacting a law firm in your state for the finer details.
There are Four Types of Alimony
Another important thing to know about alimony is that there are four basic types of it. The first of these is rehabilitative alimony. Alimony is provided to the lesser-earning spouse until they can once again become self-sufficient. There is typically a time limit set to this. Temporary alimony is provided when the marriage is going through separation, and the divorce has yet to be final. Reimbursement alimony is specifically given by one spouse to cover expenses the other spouse paid for throughout the marriage. Permanent alimony is given to the lesser-earning spouse up until the payer has died, the recipient dies or the recipient marries again.