One of the many issues that you may need to consider during your divorce is spousal support, otherwise known as alimony. When a couple gets divorced, one spouse may have to pay alimony to the other spouse. This can be achieved either by agreement of the parties or by court order.

However, this order may be confusing for some and you may not know if you are entitled to spousal support or how it is usually determined. Here are the basics of alimony and spousal support.

Why Is Alimony Awarded?

The concept of spousal support and alimony was designed to acknowledge both parties’ contributions to the marriage. It’s supposed to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce in the case where one spouse has a lower wage, or no wage in comparison to the other.

For example, if one spouse decided to stop pursuing career goals to be a stay-at-home parent, then they are not financially penalized when the marriage ends.

How Is It Determined?

There are not specific or mandated guidelines regarding alimony, so each decision is made depending on a variety of factors based on each individual case. The amount of alimony or spousal support awarded is usually decided based on a list of factors located in the state statutes. Some of the factors include:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age
  • Health
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Earning capacity of both parties
  • Education of both parties

Because there are mandated formulas in determining alimony and because it is a fact-based analysis, it is difficult to estimate how much alimony will be awarded. However, an experienced divorce attorney can give you a better idea of your situation. It’s also worth noting that alimony can be designed to be “rehabilitative” and not for an individual’s entire lifetime-this is again based on the specific facts of each case. Recipients of spousal support and supposed to eventually become self-sustaining. Spousal support is also designed to end when/if the recipient remarries.

This issue can be a challenging aspect of divorce to navigate and enforce, so it’s important to work with an attorney who knows how to handle these types of conditions and can walk you through the basics of divorce and alimony.