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When a couple gets divorced, alimony may be rewarded to one of the former spouses. Alimony (also referred to as spousal support) is payment made by one former spouse to another after a divorce in order to stabilize the financial situation for the less-earning partner. The purpose of alimony is to keep things fair between the splitting parties and to avoid leaving one spouse in an economic crisis.

When can alimony be rewarded?

Alimony can be rewarded for various reasons. One spouse may have chosen to forego career opportunities in order to be a stay-at-home parent, in this case alimony could be granted until the recipient is able to develop certain job skills that allow them to support themselves. Alimony may also be rewarded after the courts determine the couple’s standard of living while married to ensure both parties are able to continue affording the lifestyle to which they’ve grown accustomed.

How is the amount of alimony determined?

Most courts will consider the following when determining how much alimony should be rewarded:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Income and earning potential for both spouses
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Educational or occupational sacrifices made by a spouse for the benefit of the marriage
  • If children are involved and who will be raising them
  • Property obtained by both spouses
  • If the payer can afford alimony payments while still supporting themselves
  • Age, physical and mental condition of each spouse

How long do alimony payments last?

In some cases, alimony will be awarded until the receiver remarries or co-habitats with another person. Other times, alimony will only be awarded until the receiver has gained enough education or work experience and has the ability to self-support. There are also cases where alimony is required to be paid indefinitely, this can happen if the receiver has health issues or if they are elderly and unable to obtain employment.

The amount of time alimony is to be paid will vary on a case-by-case basis. Consulting with an attorney who focuses on family law is recommended. They will be able to help you navigate through the financial position of your marriage, along with setting realistic expectations for potential alimony payments.