Also known as spousal support, alimony is ordered with the purpose to keep a party who has been financially dependent on a marital relationship in the lifestyle with which they have become accustomed. Traditionally, when most women did not work outside of the home and were solely dependent on their husband’s income, it served to protect them from poverty. The modern role of spousal support is to serve as an equalizing force between the parties. It seeks to put the parties on essentially equal footing.
There are two ways the court can calculate the support. The first is to look primarily at the two parties respective incomes and essentially split the difference between them. The second is to look at the income and expenses of each party and to calculate the support payment to put each party in the same financial position. If the two party’s financial states are close enough together, no spousal support would normally be awarded.
The court may also consider other factors which may increase or lower the support obligation. These may be extraordinary contributions one party may have made to the financial future of the other party, one party’s ability to be self supporting despite current income, and even fault in the dissolution of the marriage.
How Long is Alimony Paid?
Traditionally support was ordered for the life of the spouse, however the court can limit the support for a particular time. This is typically when the parties have been married for only a few years and the spouse receiving the support has the ability to eventually provide his or her own support.
However, if a spouse has become disabled during the marriage and will not be able to reasonably live without the support of the other party, the court will award lifetime support. If a party who is receiving support enters into another marriage or a relationship that is essentially the equivalent of marriage, the obligation to continue the support will end.