How is alimony calculated?
Alimony is awarded when there is a need by one party for financial assistance and the other party has the financial ability to assist. In general, the longer the term of the marriage, and the bigger the difference in earning capabilities of the parties, the more chance for an award of permanent alimony. Permanent alimony may be awarded following a marriage of long duration, following a marriage of moderate duration, under certain circumstances, and following a marriage of short duration, under exceptional circumstances. Also, as a general proposition, the longer the term of the marriage, the more successfully a party can argue that they are entitled to maintain the lifestyle that they are accustomed to, and that they therefore need alimony. However, if it can be shown that the party asking for alimony is capable of making more money then they are earning, that will be considered in determining the amount of alimony, if any.
What if my spouse will not pay support as ordered?
The Court can order the support to be taken directly out of the person’s paycheck and people can be held in contempt for failure to pay court ordered support. In addition, a driver’s license or other licenses can be suspended for failure to pay child support. Lastly, if a party is unemployed or underemployed and fails to pay court ordered support, the judge can order the party to seek employment and enter a job-training or work program.
When does alimony end?
Usually at the death of one spouse or re-marriage of the receiving spouse. It should be noted however, that where alimony is terminable upon re-marriage, that a court may reduce or terminate the alimony when the recipient is residing with someone in a “supportive” relationship. There are numerous factors that the court will consider in deciding whether a “supportive” relationship exists, such as whether the couple hold themselves out as husband and wife, and the nature of their financial dealings.
What types of alimony are there?
In a long term marriage where there is a great difference between the earning abilities or financial positions of the parties and one party needs assistance to maintain their lifestyle and the other party has the ability to give that assistance, permanent alimony can be awarded. Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent alimony is inappropriate. It is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time not to exceed the number of years of the marriage. There is also rehabilitative alimony. This is a temporary type of alimony designed to allow a spouse, for example, to receive support while he/she is finishing up with his/her education or otherwise acquiring skills to be able to go out and make more money than he/she is currently making. Lastly, there is bridge-the-gap alimony which assists a party with legitimate, identifiable short term needs. It is to assist a party in transitioning from being married to being single.
Courts can also order temporary alimony during the time the divorce case is pending, and that amount must be paid until a final hearing in the case can be held (or until there is a reason for modification). At final hearing, the Court may order less alimony than the temporary amount or more, or no alimony. There is also lump sum alimony which the Court can use to equalize the distribution of marital assets, or can use to satisfy a spouse’s immediate need for financial assistance.
For more information, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Rooney & Rooney, P.A.