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Do you have to pay alimony in a divorce case?

December 5, 2017

Do you have to pay alimony in a divorce case?

The question on whether you or your partner is supposed to pay alimony in a divorce case can best be answered by first trying to understand what exactly is alimony.

What is Alimony?

Alimony can best be understood by looking at the concept of “the living standard of the marriage”. This concept is what is used in divorce cases to determine if a party in the divorce case deserves to be paid alimony and also sets how much should be paid. So, put simply, if you earn more than your spouse, the judge might order that you pay an amount to your partner which will sufficiently ensure that your spouse continues to enjoy the same living standard he or she was living before the divorce happened.

Is the standard of living the same for all cases?

Definitely not. The standard of living of the marriage for one couple cannot be compared with that of another couple. For one, the standard of living might mean living in big homes, taking lavish vacations and driving expensive cars while for another it might mean driving an average car, living in a modest home and going for holidays once in a long while.

Who between the husband and wife pays alimony?

In the U.S. alimony is gender-neutral, meaning that if the wife earns more than the husband and they decide to divorce, the judge might order the wife to pay alimony to the husband. In the event that you and your spouse earn equal income, then none of you will be ordered to pay alimony to the other.

Different types of Alimony

There are two main types of alimony payments that can be ordered by a judge. These include:

• Permanent alimony- This type of alimony is intended to continue indefinitely. A judge may set the end date for this alimony to be some time in the future after some major change in the circumstances of the spouse receiving this type of alimony. Permanent alimony can be awarded to a spouse who has spent many years as a full-time parent.

• Term alimony- This type of alimony is awarded in short marriages or in a marriage where the judge believes that the spouse will be able to be self-reliant after some time and be able to sustain the standard of living of the marriage.

Factors that judges put into consideration when determining whether alimony is necessary

i. The age of the parties
ii. The duration of the marriage
iii. The earning capacities, vocational skills, educational skills and employability of the spouses.
iv. The emotional and physical health of the spouse seeking alimony.
v. The abilities of the spouses to pay.
vi. The duration in which the party seeking alimony has been away from the job market.
vii. The standard of living of the marriage before the divorce.

Parting shot:

Before a judge orders a spouse to pay alimony to another, he or she must satisfy himself or herself that the conditions set in law for alimony payment are met.

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