Factors Used in Setting Alimony

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Factors Used in Setting Alimony

Spouses have a legal obligation to support one other. This duty often does not end upon a divorce; continued financial support after marriage is known as “alimony” or “spousal support.” Alimony responsibilities end upon the remarriage of the supported ex-spouse, or their “full reimbursement.” 

A family court is a court of “equity,” which means the judge may consider all facts and circumstances in reaching her decision. These factors are usually laid out in the state “family code.” Alimony is considered a taxable income for the former spouse receiving payment and is tax deductable for the former spouse paying spousal support.

How Will Alimony Be Decided?

The first factor the judge will consider in setting a proper amount of spousal support is the earning capacity of each party and the marital standard of living. These factors, in turn, are supported by sub-factors, such as: marketable skills, job market for those skills, time and expense required for further job retraining, and the extent to which earning capacity was impaired by periods of unemployment / domestic duties during the marriage.  

The next factor used in determining spousal support is the extent to which supported party assisted in the education, license, or career of the supporting party. For example, if one spouse supported the other while in law school, that spouse probably has some money coming to them. 

Other factors include current ownership of assets, duration of marriage, interests of children, age and health of parties, history of domestic violence, tax consequences, balance of hardships, goal of becoming self-supporting, cohabitation with member of opposite sex, expenses of each spouse, and any other factors the court determines are just and equitable. 

Will Children Affect the Alimony Awarded?

Alimony is considered spousal support because it is meant for the former spouse who depended on the other for financial assistance. Although having custody of children may influence the expenses of the parent, other factors, such as income level, would probably be weighed first. Child support is typically used to benefit the children.  

What If The Factors Used To Determine Alimony Change?

If the income levels of either ex-spouses change, they may also request a change in alimony. If the paying party loses his or her job or if the receiving party experiences a substantial increase in income, a reduction may be applied for. Likewise, if the paying party has an increase in revenue, an increase in alimony payment can be asked for. It will be up to the judge to grant or deny the request. The only exception is when the receiving party remarries or passes away. If either of those events occur, alimony payments will cease.

Do I Need A Lawyer To Handle Alimony?

Alimony is designed to help former spouses achieve financial freedom after a separation. A family law attorney can help you obtain the correct amount of alimony you may require. 

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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 04:41 PM PST

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