What are the Basics of Alimony?

by: Geoff Owen | Website

What are the Basics of Alimony?

Alimony is effectively a distribution of income from one spouse to another in a divorce. It tries to alleviate any inequity in income earned by each spouse.

There are “rule of thumb” equations to estimate alimony. However it is difficult to assess a global standard because each divorcing couple’s situation is unique. In general, alimony considerations include:

  • An attempt is made to determine the amount of need a recipient spouse has for basics such as food, residence and general living. Other costs are also considered such as discretionary expenses and goals resulting from the divorce (e.g. career services). Divorce professionals can help define a fair budget and will also assess the recipient spouse’s sources of income.
  • Ability to Pay. The ability of the payor spouse to pay alimony and still have enough to live on for himself or herself is also considered.
  • Length of Marriage, Age, Health, Need for Education, Etc. There is a variety of other factors that are considered when determining alimony. For instance, a lengthy marriage where one spouse sacrificed his or her career for the other will likely warrant a greater alimony obligation than a shorter marriage where both spouses have developed careers.

A popular belief is that alimony is supposed to afford a continuance of pre-divorce lifestyle. Often times, the circumstances of divorce require- that both spouses experience a decreased standard of living, especially initially.


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