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When Do Courts Award Alimony?

Posted on January 16th, 2019 by Oddo & Babat, P.C.

Family Law Lawyer

Although not as common as it once was, there are still many spouses who request alimony when they are going through a divorce. One of the factors that a court may consider when determining alimony is how the marital estate is being divided in the divorce, including both assets and debts. If you feel you qualify for alimony, as well as want to ensure you receive your fair share of assets and property from your marriage, you should retain the services of an aggressive divorce lawyer.

What criteria do the courts look for in order to establish eligibility for alimony?

There are certain factors that a court will require before it will award alimony. Although each state has their own dissolution of marriage laws, the following are some of the requirements a court may have:

  •        The spouse who is requesting the alimony is unable to earn enough income because of a physical or mental disability
  •        The spouse who is requesting the alimony will have primary custody of the couple’s child who requires substantial care because he or she is special needs
  •        The marriage lasted for 10 years or more
  •        The other spouse has a history or was convicted of domestic violence

There may be other criteria that the state you live in requires in order to receive alimony. Your divorce attorney can go over your situation and make that determination.

If the court agrees that you do meet the required eligibility factors to receive alimony, the next step the court will take is determine the amount you will receive, how long you will receive support for, and what the manner of payments will be. Again, there are a variety of factors the judge will consider when making these determinations. These factors may include:

  •        The length of the marriage
  •        The age of each of the spouses
  •        The physical and mental health of each spouse
  •        The education and employment skills of each spouse
  •        The employment history and earning ability of each spouse
  •        The ability of each spouse to independently meet their own needs after the divorce
  •        How that ability would be affected for the paying spouse while paying alimony
  •        If the requesting spouse’s role as primary caretaker for the children and managing the home has hampered their ability to now enter the workforce
  •        What type of contribution did the requesting spouse make towards the paying spouse’s education, training, and earning ability during the marriage
  •        What, if any, separate property or assets either spouse brought to the marriage
  •        Did either spouse engage in any action in an effort to conceal assets, dispose of the assets fraudulently, or engage in asset dissipation
  •        Did either spouse commit adultery, cruel behavior, or any other marital misconduct
  •        Is there a history of domestic violence in the marriage

There are two types of alimony the court may award once the divorce is final. One is rehabilitative alimony, which is short-term but allows the receiving spouse to get adjusted financially and obtain training for a career. The other type of alimony is permanent and, like its name suggests, is usually long-term.


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