There are a lot of factors involved in deciding whether a divorce settlement should include alimony, and if so, how much. To reach a fair outcome where both sides can meet their needs, it is essential to have a basic grasp on what the court will assess when deciding how much alimony will be paid and other factors related to it.
Understanding the basics about alimony
Whether it is a high asset case or one of more modest means, the court has specific points it considers when deciding on alimony, also known as spousal support. First, it will look at the standard of living the couple had while they were married and do its best to make sure it can be maintained. For wealthy people, that will include their living arrangements, vacations and expensive items. For those of more modest means, it might simply mean helping them have a safe place to live and all their fundamental needs met including food and healthcare.
Next, it considers the length of the marriage. A shorter-term marriage might warrant less alimony for a shorter duration. Or it might mean there is no alimony at all. For a long-term marriage where the people had settled into roles and one side might have trouble meeting all their financial obligations on their own, the alimony could be higher and last for a longer time.
It could be viewed in terms of the age of the parties as a greater number of older people are ending their marriage in what is commonly referred to as a “gray” divorce. This will be considered when the amount is calculated as it can be more difficult for an older person who has not worked in a long time to get back into the workforce and earn an income sufficient for self-support.
People react to the end of a marriage differently. They might have various challenges moving on and supporting themselves. With that, the court will look at their age and their condition. If the person has health problems of the physical or emotional kind or simply cannot do some kinds of work, then this impacts the alimony determination.
It can take time for a person to achieve skills, education and training to get back into the workforce or to get a better job. That too is assessed with the alimony determination. Going back to school, taking a course or learning about advancements to move forward in a current job will require that the person is financially protected. Alimony is meant to help with that.
People need to be ready for their family law case
In all aspects of family law, the court will strive to reach an equitable decision that benefits both sides. Still, there are likely to be disagreements as to what that would entail. Finances are the root of many disputes. The person set to receive alimony and the one being asked to pay it could have a gap in the amount, duration and other factors they deem to be fair. This is particularly problematic in contentious cases where the sides are not on good terms.
Regardless of the point of view, each side needs to be protected. Perhaps it is possible to come to a negotiated settlement and avoid a rancorous court case. If not, it is wise to know what can be done to achieve a positive result in a reasonable time-frame.