Divorce often involves the complex and sensitive issue of spousal support or alimony. Knowing the factors that courts consider in determining the level and type of spousal support is essential for both the recipient and the payor. This understanding sets realistic expectations and promotes a smoother divorce process.
Courts use certain factors as their guide
Whether the court will award a permanent, temporary or other level or type of alimony will depend on their consideration of certain factors, which include the following:
- Marriage length: Generally, longer marriages are more likely to result in alimony awards since it reflects the degree of income dependability between spouses, among others.
- Standard of living during the union: Courts look at the spouses’ standard of living during the marriage and aim for parties to maintain a similar lifestyle post-divorce.
- Available financial resources and assets: Courts assess the financial resources of each party, including their assets and liabilities, to understand what each party can afford and what they need to sustain themselves.
- Earning capacity and opportunities: Courts consider each spouse’s ability to sustain themselves and pay support by looking into their current income and ability to earn in the future.
- Contributions to the marriage: Courts also consider whether one spouse supported the other while they were obtaining education or training that increased their earning potential. Similarly, it is also a material factor if one spouse assumed homemaking duties to allow the other to work full-time.
Other factors include each spouse’s age and overall health and any fault in the marriage’s breakdown. Ultimately, the court’s decision will depend on the unique circumstances surrounding each case.
Why do parties need to know this?
Understanding these factors can help the support-seeking party present a clear case for their financial needs, allowing them to set forth a compelling argument for the support amount that accurately reflects their needs and contribution to the marriage.
Conversely, the party ordered to pay support can benefit from understanding how courts determine spousal support by setting realistic expectations about their financial obligations.