Alimony: 6 Things You Need to Know

Alimony also known as Spousal Support is money a court requires one spouse to pay to the other spouse for support before, and/or after the divorce is granted.  Here are 6 things you need to know about alimony.

1) Alimony awards can go both ways:  Alimony is not just paid by husbands to wives, despite common belief.  It can be paid to, or received by either spouse. 

2) How is it calculated?:  Courts rely on several factors to determine the amount of alimony awarded, and for how long the award will be paid.  Some of those factors are

  • The length of the marriage
  • Cause of the marriage breakdown
  • The age, health, occupation, education and earning capacity of the parties.
  • Amount and sources of spouse's income.  

The complete list of factors can be seen here.

3) Alimony can be paid in several ways:  Alimony can either by paid periodically (usually on a monthly basis), or as a lump sum paid at the time of dissolution, or shortly thereafter.  

4) Alimony payments can be various lengths:  Alimony payments can be a one time lump sum payment or periodic payments for a year, several years, or a lifetime award.  There’s no set timeframe for how long a spouse will be paid alimony.

5) Alimony can be ordered during the divorce (known as pendent lite alimony), and or at the time the divorce is granted.

6) Alimony is not automatic:  As previously stated there are several factors that the court considers when making an alimony award.   Either spouse can waive their right to alimony.  If alimony is waived and not ordered at the divorce, that spouse that waived alimony can not come back to court to request alimony after the divorce is finalized.

Alimony awards do not have to be decided by the court.  Your divorce mediation attorney can help you draft alimony orders so there is no uncertainty that results when it is left up to the courts to decide an alimony award.  Doing so, the parties ensure the alimony order is tailored to meet the needs of each party, now and in the future.