How Does Alimony Work?

Everyone knows that divorce isn’t easy. Being in and out of courts, dealing with child support, and dealing with the financial burden are definitely the last things you want to be doing. You didn’t even consider how you may have to pay alimony. If your divorce was smooth sailing then courts won’t have to be involved and you and your former spouse can agree to the amount and how long it will last. Unfortunately, divorce isn’t always smooth sailing. It’s important to know what the court looks at when determining alimony. It’s also important to know the terms on how long and when the alimony will end as well as some common misconceptions about alimony.

Through the Courts Eyes

There are several factors the court looks at when determining alimony. The court looks at the standard of living you and your former spouse had as a married couple. It’s important to remember that the court won’t order the advantaged spouse to pay alimony to the point where they are no longer self-sufficient, meaning no more than the amount needed for meeting their standard of living during the marriage. They look at the potential recipient’s ability to make money. Courts look at the duration of the marriage meaning the longer the marriage lasted, the case for alimony will be stronger.

They also look at who has custody of minor children who will need support. One main thing that the courts look for is “fault”. This means if the former spouse did something that was key in their breakup of the marriage. This includes having sexual relations with someone who was not the spouse at the time, the former spouse causing life-threatening harm to the other party or minor children, or considerably impairing the financial stability of the former spouse and/or minor children.

Duration and Termination

When alimony is awarded, the terms of the duration of these payments and when it ends are then determined. Typically the payments last as long as the marriage lasted. Payments usually end when the recipient spouse remarries or when either party dies. When the spouse has to pay remarries, the amount that has to be paid in alimony may change based on the income of their new spouse. If a husband cheated on a wife with someone who had substantially greater income and then married her, alimony can be adjusted because the marriage ended with improper conduct.

Common Myths

There are several myths people have about alimony. One common myth is that alimony is calculated through gross income, similar to child support. Alimony is actually determined through net income, gross income with the taxes taken out. Income that is made in overtime, more than 40 hours a week, isn’t included in the income that determines alimony. It would only be included if the overtime was routine in the marriage and both spouses relied on it to meet their needs. Another common myth is that only women can be awarded alimony. As mentioned previously, alimony is determined by the financial burden the receiving spouse has endured because of the separation. It is also awarded based on the education of the spouse requesting alimony.

When the courts decide to award alimony, it can be tough. Courts may have given you the short end of the stick. You could be paying too much alimony or not getting enough of it. You need someone who can fight for your rights either way. Emy A. Cordano is Alimony Attorney in Salt Lake City. Make an appointment for a legal consultation through this contact form or call for a case review at (801) 901-8159.

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