When you go through a divorce, in addition to dividing up all of your assets, you also need to make sure that both sides walk away with the right level of financial support, otherwise known as alimony. If you are going through a divorce or getting ready to, you need to understand how alimony works and how the alimony amount is determined.
Factor #1: How Much Money One Makes
The first thing that will need to be established will be how much money each spouse brings in each year. Traditionally, that is established by looking at your taxes over the last few years to determine how much money each spouse brings into the marriage. The court may also look at your current paystubs as well to determine what each spouse is bringing in.
In some situations, the money that one makes may be tied to stocks, bonds, and other investments. In that case, the courts would look at that information as well if you have a unique salary where your income is tied to other investments.
Factor #2: The Difference in Income Between the Spouses
Second, the court will look at the difference in income between the spouses. They will examine how long there has been a difference in income and how great that difference is.
The spouse who has a history of bringing in a higher income is the one who will more than likely have to pay alimony. If your incomes are almost equal, for example, if one of you brings in $36,000 a year and the other makes $38,000 a year, the chances of one spouse having to pay the other alimony are greatly reduced.
Factor #3: Monthly Budget or Lifestyle
One of the main points of alimony is to ensure that the spouse who doesn't make as much money is able to maintain the same or similar lifestyle that they had when married. A judge should look to split the money that both spouses are earning so that both spouses have an opportunity to live a lifestyle that is as close as possible to their married lifestyle, or that is at least equal with one another. One spouse shouldn't be getting by paycheck to paycheck while the other is able to live a more extravagant lifestyle.
Factor #4: How Long You Have Been Married
Next, the courts are going to look at how long you have been married. Alimony is far more likely when a couple is divorcing after twenty-five years than when a couple is divorcing after two years together. The length of your marriage will generally impact if alimony is awarded, and if it is awarded, for how long one will receive that alimony.
A judge will look at all of the above factors to determine if any alimony should be paid, by whom, for how much, and for how long. A divorce lawyer can help make sure that the alimony is fair to both parties.