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What Does a Court Look at When Determining Alimony?

What Does a Court Look at When Determining Alimony?

When facing divorce, many people worry about the court’s determination on alimony and what it could mean for their financial situation after the divorce. It can be a stressful consideration combined with the other challenges involved with going through divorce proceedings. Fortunately, an experienced divorce attorney can explain what a court looks at when determining alimony and represent your best interests in these proceedings.

Types of Alimony

A court will award alimony to provide the supported spouse with a lifestyle after the divorce that is reasonably comparable to the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. There are several types of alimony a court can award depending on the length of a marriage and other facts and circumstances.

Temporary Alimony

Courts only award temporary alimony – also referred to as “pendente lite support” – while a divorce is pending. Courts determine pendente lite support based on the Family Part Case Information Statements that each spouse submits containing the initial financial details of their case. The point of pendente lite support is to preserve the financial status quo that existed during the marriage when the parties resided together. The court may also require one spouse to contribute to the other spouse’s legal fees.

Limited and Open Durational Alimony

Limited duration alimony addresses the supported spouse’s needs for a specified duration of time after a divorce. In contrast, open durational alimony provides for an ex-spouse without a firm end date. Courts typically only award open durational alimony to someone who spent extended periods of a marriage that lasted 20 years or longer as a supported spouse. In fact, open durational alimony is only awardable in marriages that lasted at least 20 years. Conversely, limited duration alimony can only be for as long as the marriage was. For example, if a couple was only married for 10 years, limited durational alimony cannot last longer than 10 years.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony provides one spouse with financial support while they are getting the job training or education required to achieve financial independence. The supported spouse must explain why they need the training and the steps they will take to achieve this goal in a reasonable timeframe.

Reimbursement Alimony

Reimbursement alimony is designed for relationships where one spouse supports the other through advanced education with the expectation that the paying spouse would get a return on their investment through their partner’s increased earning capacity. Courts rarely award this type of alimony, but a divorce lawyer can explain when it might be applicable.

Factors That Can Affect Alimony Amounts

When determining the amount of alimony someone will pay after a divorce, courts will look at the standard of living established during the marriage for the supported spouse. They will also look at each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, financially or through parental responsibilities for children at home. If a partner gave up their career or career opportunities to support their spouse and children, that decision may factor into alimony payments.

To determine what a couple’s financial situation will be post-divorce, the court will also consider the age and health of either spouse, including whether one spouse has a condition or illness that may affect their ability to support themselves. They will also examine earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and overall employability.

Courts must consider a paying spouse’s financial means and the receiving spouse’s financial needs when determining a fair and equitable alimony arrangement. They will also look at how the divorce proceedings could affect your financial situation, including the payment of pendente lite alimony, to ensure an equitable distribution of property and income payouts. It is incredibly rare for the courts to award an alimony payment so large that it would impact a paying spouse’s finances to the point of being unable to afford rent, groceries, or other necessities.

An Attorney at Moskowitz Laws Group Understands How Courts Award Alimony

The above factors are not the only factors that courts will look at when determining how much alimony you could either pay or receive after your divorce. To better understand the factors that may affect your alimony payments, contact a skilled divorce attorney at Moskowitz Law Group. Our experienced team is here to help you and your family through this time.

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