Alimony is financial support paid to a spouse for his or her maintenance. It is not the same as child support. Alimony can be agreed upon or awarded on a temporary or permanent basis and can take on a variety of forms. Unlike child support, there is no mathematic formula for calculating alimony. A number of factors are considered when determining the amount and the period of time over which it is paid, or duration, including:
o The standard of living established during the marriage
o The duration of the marriage
o The age and physical and emotional health of both spouses
o The financial resources of both spouses
o Where applicable, the time necessary for either spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him or her to find appropriate employment
o The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including but not limited to services rendered in homemaking, childcare, education, and career building of the other spouse
o The financial condition of each spouse, including any separate estate, earning capacity and the fixed liabilities of each spouse
A Judge or jury has wide discretion in addressing the issue of alimony. Our experience is that the two factors the Court focuses on the most are the need of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay. The length of the marriage is also an important consideration, especially if one spouse has not worked outside the home for a number of years.
Whether you are a spouse who may receive alimony or the one who may pay, we will provide you with practical advice and realistic expectations to help you plan accordingly.
Once alimony has been awarded in a specific amount for a specific duration of time, it can be modified up or down under limited circumstances. The duration may not be changed. In order to be modified, the party seeking a modification must be able to prove that there has been a substantial change in the income or financial status of either party. Additionally, alimony can be modified downward or eliminated altogether if the party receiving party enters into a “meretricious” relationship that resembles marriage by virtue of shared expenses and the living arrangement.