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How Long Do You Pay Alimony

How Long Do You Pay Alimony

Alimony payments can help one spouse get back on his or her feet after a marriage. Figuring out the duration of spousal support payments varies and is based on the type of alimony. There are several types of alimony in a divorce proceeding. When you are going through a divorce, a judge might order temporary or short-term alimony. However, after your divorce is complete, the judge may award permanent or long-term alimony.

• Temporary alimony: This is alimony that is to be paid for a certain period of time. It is appropriate in shorter-term marriages and in marriages where there is a reasonable probability that the spouse being paid the alimony will become self sufficient to the extent of being able to maintain the standard of living of the marriage. It is is awarded before a divorce is completed. It is a short-term payment that will last until the divorce is finalized and a payment schedule can be made. So, if the divorce takes six months, the payment will be for six months.

• Permanent alimony: As the name implies, permanent alimony is intended to continue indefinitely or at least until some major change of circumstance. It is awarded only in long-term marriages where there is little if any chance that a spouse would ever be able to maintain the standard of living of the marriage. The typical permanent alimony case is one where one spouse has been a full time parent and homemaker for many years. This parent may have past work experience and even a college or post-graduate degree. But in the 20 or more years that the spouse has been at home, the other spouse has built a career, a wage-earning capacity and a standard of living that the homemaking spouse would probably never be able to achieve. The law still imposes on the spouse seeking alimony an obligation to contribute to his or her own support to the extent reasonable under the circumstances. This is awarded until the person dies, retires, or is remarried.

• Rehabilitative alimony: Like term alimony, rehabilitative alimony is paid for a period of time, but the amount of the alimony and the duration of time it is paid are tied to a specific plan for the spouse receiving the payments to become financially self-sufficient. A plan for a spouse to go back to school to get a high school, college or post graduate degree would qualify a spouse for rehabilitative alimony. Vocational training, technical training or starting a business would qualify a spouse for this kind of alimony. The idea is to pay alimony to a spouse who cannot maintain the standard of living of the marriage while he or she is preparing to become self-sufficient. This kind of alimony often takes into account the costs of the education or training program and the inability of the spouse to work or work full time while going to school.

• Reimbursement Alimony: If a judge rules for reimbursement alimony, it is for the time, effort, or money one spouse put into the other’s education or business. The duration of this type of alimony varies based on how long reimbursement will take. While it is difficult to come up with an average, it is easier to look at a scenario. If one spouse supported the other through a business degree for 3 years and was divorced shortly after, a judge might provide the supporting spouse with reimbursement alimony until the debt, what was put into the other’s education, is done. Therefore, if it takes four years for the supporting to be paid back, he or she will receive alimony for four years. This type of alimony is designed to reimburse one spouse for time and support given to the other spouse who has obtained a valuable degree or certification

Considerations for Alimony Duration

There are certain factors the court will use to decide how much and for how long one spouse must pay. The courts consider the skills, education, and work history of both parties in the marriage. If both have comparable skills and education which results in high-paying jobs, the courts will not order spousal support. Alternatively, if there is a lack of skills, education, and work history for one of the people in the relationship, the person will be paid until he or she has received the skills and education to acquire a job.

Accustomed Lifestyle

The courts will consider the lifestyle the couple was living. Ideally, both people will remain living in the same type of lifestyle they were living in before the divorce.

Getting Spousal Support

When it comes to paying or receiving alimony after a divorce, the duration for payments is variable. It might vary based on the type, how long you were married, and the reason for the support. Additionally, finding the average for the duration of payments comes with lots of different factors. The key to alimony is to understand the term the standard of living of the marriage. It’s one of the measures the law uses to determine if you are entitled to alimony and if so, how much. The basic idea behind alimony is that when your marriage ends, you both should be able to go on living as you were before the divorce. If you make all or most of the money, you would probably have to share that income with your spouse. If you didn’t, your standard of living would rise considerably above the one you enjoyed while married, and your spouse’s would drop below it. The standard of living of the marriage is really how you live and how much it costs to live that way. For some people, the standard of living involves big homes, expensive cars and lavish vacations. For others, it involves a modest house, a practical car and trips to the shore. It’s different for every family, but it is basically defined by how much money you had to spend while you were married, and how you spent it. A mediator will work with you and ask questions to help you define your standard of living. This is crucial to figuring out alimony. Once you can agree as to the standard of living and what it will cost you each month to live that way, other important questions come up. If you are a non-wage earning spouse as many stay-at-home parents are, or if you earn less than your spouse, you need to ask whether you could support the standard of living you had while you were married. If not, how much would you need to support that lifestyle? If the answer is $4,000 per month, you may be entitled to that much in alimony. Two important factors come into play. The law obligates you to support yourself to the extent that you reasonably can, taking into account the need to care for children, your health, education, work experience, etc., and alimony is based not just on your need but also on your spouse’s ability to pay what you need and meet his or her own needs. Remember, the idea is to have both spouses maintain the standard of living of the marriage or share equally in the decline in the standard of living. In most divorces, neither spouse maintains the same standard of living they had before the divorce. It costs more to run two households than one. Unless there is an increase in income after the divorce, both spouses will be worse off than they were before.

Another important reason for determining the standard of living attained during the marriage is that in the years after the marriage, alimony should only be paid so long as one spouse cannot maintain that standard on his or her own, and also because the standard of living of the marriage establishes a cap on the alimony the paying spouse should ever have to pay. Alimony is often the most difficult issues to resolve. People who can agree on everything else often bitterly resent having to pay alimony after the divorce. By looking at future goals and the needs of their spouses, people usually begin to see the fairness of alimony. It is hard to defend the position that one spouse should end up living better than during the marriage and one should be much worse off. By addressing issues of anger, fear, depression and betrayal, the mediation process can help people reach settlements that meet their needs and often such settlements have to include alimony.

Factors Considered by Judges When They are Deciding Whether Alimony is Appropriate includes;
• The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
• The duration of the marriage
• The age, physical and emotional health of the parties
• The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living
• The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employ-ability of the parties
• The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance
• The parental responsibilities for the children
• The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income
• The history of the financial or non-financial contribution to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities
• The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair
• The income available to either party through investment of any assets
• The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment
• Any other factors which the court may deem relevant
When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony. No one should have to come out of the marriage losing financially. If one partner is more financially secure than the other, a form of alimony should be paid on a sliding scale. This goes for women paying alimony as well as men. If a child is under school-age, and the mother or the father needs to be a stay-at-home parent, alimony is a fair accommodation until that parent is able to begin working outside the home. The support of a child should be the responsibility of both parents. If one makes considerably more than the other, the division of support should show it. Instead of a 50/50 support contract it may well be 75/50 or whatever is fair. A woman making three times more a year than her ex-husband is capable of giving more money to support the child.

Alimony should be an equal opportunity responsibility. While the majority of alimony recipients are still women who are stay-at-home mothers and men are the ones who pay it, the system is changing and rightly so. Gone are the days when a healthy woman, capable of working, was supported for life simply because of the Mrs. in front of her name. And the same goes for any healthy man. In the purest sense of the law, alimony was always meant to help and protect a former spouse who was incapable of taking care of herself/himself financially. Child support is a necessary obligation of parenting. Neither was meant to be abused or used as a form of punishment during divorce proceedings. The relationship reality here is that alimony, in spite of everything else that may be negative about divorce, should be the one part that is fair and just to both parties. No one should be the winner or the loser.

Divorce Lawyer And Alimony

When you need an Alimony Lawyer, call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.