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Breaking Down AlimonyWhen a couple decides to dissolve their marriage, the process is not as cut and dry as one might think. Assets, finances, and other factors all come into play when coming to an agreement between spouses.

One of the biggest hot button issues when discussing a divorce is that of alimony. Many do not know just how it is awarded or even everything that it entails. Here is a quick rundown of the things you need to know when alimony is being mentioned in the mix of a divorce.

What is Alimony?
Alimony is defined under the law as money the court orders one spouse to pay to the other on a regular basis after a marriage is dissolved. It is separate and distinct from child support, but may under certain circumstances be combined with child support into a “family support” package. Alimony may be ordered temporarily, during a period of separation, while a divorce is pending, also short-term, long-term, or conditionally.

Alimony has garnered an entirely new meaning over the last decade, since it now no longer refers to the money given to a wife in the divorce settlement. Today, there are no hard and fast rules regarding alimony. How alimony will be awarded in a particular divorce case, or whether it will be awarded at all, is decided based on the details and specifics of the couple’s marriage and individual backgrounds

How is it Awarded?
There are a multitude of reasons and stipulations the courts will grant alimony on. However, some of the core reasons  they often do not award alimony to either spouse is based on the income of the spouses or their ability to provide for themselves. Having incomes that are near the same will cancel out any need for alimony, and so will a spouse applying for alimony if they have the ability to provide for themselves.

Factors which the court will take into consideration in making its decision as to the amount of the alimony award and the duration of the payments include:

  • Duration of the Marriage

Alimony is more likely to be made in the case of a long-term marriage. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the court will find the supported spouse as entitled to compensation for his or her role in the supporting spouse’s financial success.

  • Marital Arrangements

If one of the spouses in question has volunteered to stay home,  and forgo education or work, to support any children or to maintain the home, alimony is usually awarded as a compensation for all of the time this was the case. If this is in writing or legal proof of this can be found, alimony is more likely to be awarded on these grounds.

  • Lifestyles & Expenses

The way in which spouses lived during the duration of their marriage is taken heavily into account. The supported spouse is entitled to continue to live a lifestyle that approximates that to which he or she has become accustomed over a long period of time. The court will generally order alimony payments to be in an amount sufficient to allow the supported spouse to continue in a comfortable lifestyle.

  • Education & Prospective Earnings

The court will consider how much education each spouse had before the marriage, and if one spouse contributed to the education of another, they will be compensated for said time. The court will also consider whether the supported spouse has the ability to immediately resume employment and, if so, whether he or she will be able to earn a sufficient income.

  • Other Terms & Conditions

When determining alimony, the courts ask themselves one deciding question: “What does the supported spouse need in order to become self-sufficient?” In addition to the above mentioned reasons, there are sometimes other factors that lead to the awarding of alimony. Some of these factors are children, disabilities to the awarded spouse, ability to work without support, and others that are all specific to certain cases.

The bottom line is, alimony is awarded, only after intense scrutiny and searching for answers in regards to the reasons mentioned. The courts know that alimony should only be awarded if it is fully necessary and the ability to do so is had by the spouse in question.

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