Few divorce related terms elicit a more dynamic response than this form of court-mandated support. Generally referred to as “maintenance” in Alabama, it is the obligation of one person to provide financial support to their former spouse following a separation or divorce.
There is generally a pretty even split with regard to public opinion about alimony. Those who receive it are grateful for it, those who have to pay it despise it, and those who have never been involved in an alimony settlement are relatively indifferent.
But while most people know enough about alimony to know it is money that one spouse has to pay their ex after a divorce, few really understand what goes into a court’s thinking in determining whether or not to award alimony as well as how to calculate it. Alimony is certainly not a foregone conclusion in every divorce, and a great deal of information is considered before a decision regarding alimony is made.
How is Alimony Calculated?
Generally, there are four things the courts will always look at when making a decision about alimony. They may also consider other factors not listed here as well, depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the case.
- Length of the marriage – The court will look at how long the marriage has lasted. Alimony is oftentimes reserved only for longer marriages in the range of 10-12 years or more, since shorter marriages require less of a mutual investment in a particular standard of living. This is one of the most important factors in determining the support.
- Conduct that led to breakdown of marriage – The courts will consider the actions of one or both spouses that directly resulted in the divorce. If one spouse is at fault for reasons such as adultery, that is certainly not going to help their case with regard to receiving or avoiding paying alimony.
- Lifestyles parties have grown accustomed to – In a marriage, couples will establish a particular quality of life that the courts will usually work to ensure will be maintained following the divorce. If one spouse will clearly be unable to maintain the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to throughout their marriage, the other may be required to provide enough financial support to help them maintain said lifestyle.
- Financial dependence of one party on the other – Has one spouse been a homemaker throughout the marriage, entirely dependant on the other for income? This will factor heavily into an alimony determination.
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Some other factors the courts could weigh include the needs of dependent children, the ability of a spouse to obtain gainful employment, length of residence specifically for those in the military, and the age and health of either spouse. There are also several different types of financial support that can be awarded, ranging from temporary to lump-sum to permanent. Additionally, proving or disproving the aforementioned factors in order to obtain or avoid alimony can be incredibly complex and difficult. If you are facing a divorce, call New Beginnings Family Law and let our experienced attorneys work to ensure your alimony settlement is fair and reasonable.