What is alimony and how is it determined?

Author:Lawcheck & Lawsonline
SUMMARY

Alimony or spousal maintenance is money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. When a party starts a divorce proceeding, he or she may need the immediate intervention of the court to establish temporary alimony as a part of other types of temporary relief. The amount of temporary alimony is based upon the financial circumstances existing at that time, as presented ... (see full summary)

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ALABAMA

Alimony is money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. Alabama law provides that if either spouse has no separate property, or if the separate property is insufficient for the maintenance of a spouse, the judge at his or her discretion may order to a spouse an allowance out of the estate of the other spouse, taking into consideration the value of the property and the condition of the spouse?s family. However, the judge may not take into consideration any property acquired prior to the marriage of the parties or by inheritance or gift, unless the judge finds from the evidence that the property, or income produced by the property, has been used regularly for the common benefit of the parties during their marriage. Facts which the court should consider in determining an award of alimony include the future prospects of the parties, their ages, health, station in life, length of marriage, and the conduct of the parties with respect to the cause of the divorce.

Alabama Code 30-2- 51.

Alabama law specifically provides that the misconduct of a spouse may be considered by the court in determining the award of alimony, as well as an award of property.

Alabama Code 30-2-52.

Any divorce decree providing for payment of alimony shall be modified by the court to provide for the termination of alimony upon petition by the other party and proof that the spouse receiving alimony has remarried, or that the spouse receiving alimony is living openly or cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex.

Alabama Code 30-2 -55.

ALASKA

The court may provide for reasonable spousal maintenance in response to a party?s Application for Temporary Relief. The primary factors which should be considered in awarding temporary spousal maintenance are the relative economic circumstances and needs of the parties and the ability to pay the maintenance. In the judgment concluding the divorce action, the court may award spousal maintenance for a limited or indefinite period of time, as may be just and necessary without regard to which of the parties is at fault. An award of maintenance must fairly allocate the economic effect of divorce by being based on a consideration of the following factors: 1) the length of the marriage and the parties? standard of living during the marriage; 2) the age and health of the parties; 3) the earning capacity of the parties including their educational backgrounds, training, and employment skills; 4) the financial condition of the parties including the availability and cost of health insurance; 5) whether there has been unreasonable depletion of marital assets; 6) the division of property being made by the court; and 7) any other factors the court determines to be relevant in each individual case.

AS 25.24.140 and 25.24.160.

ARIZONA

The court may order spousal maintenance if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: 1) lacks sufficient property to provide for his or her reasonable needs; or 2) is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child whose age is such that the custodian should not be required to seek employment outside the home; or 3) contributed to the educational opportunities of the other spouse; or 4) had a marriage of long duration and is of an age which may preclude the possibility of gaining employment adequate to support himself or herself.

The maintenance order shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct, and after considering all relevant factors including: 1) the standard of living established during the marriage; 2) the duration of the marriage; 3) the age and employment history and earning ability and physical condition of the spouse seeking maintenance; 4) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance; 5) the comparative financial resources of the spouses including their comparative earning abilities; 6) the contribution of the spouse seeking maintenance to the earning ability of the other spouse; 7) the extent to which the spouse seeking maintenance has reduced his or her income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse; 8) the ability of both parties after the dissolution to contribute to the future educational costs of their mutual children; 9) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance and that party?s ability to meet his or her needs independently; 10) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment; and 11) excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community property.

The court shall maintain continuing jurisdiction over the issue of spousal maintenance for the period of time maintenance is awarded.

ARS §25-319.

ARKANSAS

Alimony or spousal maintenance is money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. Upon application of either party, the court may award temporary alimony to either party while the divorce complaint is pending. The court has the discretion to order "any reasonable sum."

Ark. stat. Ann. 9-12-314.

At the time a final decree is entered, the court shall make such orders concerning alimony as are reasonable for the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties, liability for alimony shall automatically cease upon the earlier of the following: 1) The date of remarriage of the alimony recipient, or 2) the establishment of a relationship that produces a child and results in the court order directing another person to pay support to the alimony recipient, which circumstances shall be the equivalent of remarriage; or 3) the establishment of a relationship that produces a child and results in a court order directing the alimony recipient to provide support to another person who is not a descendant by birth or adoption, which circumstances shall be considered the equivalent of remarriage.

Alimony may be awarded, under proper circumstances, to either party in fixed installments for a specified period of time, subject to the contingence fees of 1) death of either party, 2) remarriage of the receiving party, or 3) such other contingencies as are set forth in the award, so that the payments qualify as periodic payments within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code.

Ark. stat. Ann. 9-12-312.

CALIFORNIA

In ordering spousal support, the court shall consider all of the following circumstances: 1) the extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage, 2) the extent to which the supported party contributed to the attainment of an education or career by the supporting party, 3) the supporting party?s earning capacity, 4) the needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage, 5) the obligations and assets of each party, 6) the duration of the marriage, 7) the ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in custody of that party, 8) the age and health of the parties, 9) the immediate tax consequences to each party, and 10) any other factors deemed to be just and equitable.

Cal. Fam. Code §4320.

COLORADO

Alimony or spousal maintenance is money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, the Colorado court may grant a maintenance order for either spouse only if it finds that the spouse seeking maintenance: 1) lacks sufficient property including marital property to provide for his reasonable needs, and 2) is unable to support himself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of the child whose circumstances make it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home. The court order for spousal maintenance shall be in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just, without regard to marital misconduct and after considering all relevant factors, including: 1) the financial resources of the party seeking maintenance and his ability to meet his needs independently, 2) the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training, 3) the standard of living established during the marriage, 4) the duration of the marriage, 5) the age and physical and emotional condition of the spouse seeking maintenance, and 6) the ability of the spouse from whom maintenance is sought to meet his needs while meeting those of the spouse seeking maintenance.

CRSA §14-10-113.

CONNECTICUT

At the time of entering the decree of dissolution of marriage, the Connecticut Superior Court may order either of the parties to pay alimony to the other. In determining whether Alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award of alimony, the court shall consider the following: the length of the marriage, the causes for the dissolution of marriage, the age, health, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, assets and needs of each of the parties, and also the court?s division of assets and whether a custodial parent will be obtaining employment.

C.G.S.A §46b-82.

DELAWARE

Alimony is money paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other spouse. The court may award interim or temporary alimony at any time while the divorce action is pending. A party may be awarded alimony only if he or she is considered to be a "dependent" party, meaning that he or she: 1) is dependent upon the other party for support; 2) lacks sufficient property including any award of marital property to provide for his or her reasonable needs; and 3) is unable...

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