Why Courts Award Alimony
Courts award alimony as a form of financial assistance to one spouse in a divorce. Alimony or spousal support is given to a party to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony could be indefinite, or they might pay alimony until the receiving party can realistically provide themself with a similar standard of living.
When a marriage comes to an end, the court may award alimony to one spouse in order to provide financial support. Courts award alimony to ensure that both spouses maintain a similar standard of living post-divorce and to mitigate any financial disadvantages that may arise from the dissolution of the marriage.
It is important to note that alimony is not meant as punishment for one party. Instead, it addresses any economic imbalance between former spouses that come from the end of their relationship. The amount and duration of alimony can always be modified if circumstances change over time. Alimony awards are ultimately determined case-by-case, considering all relevant factors at play.
How Alimony Is Determined
Before the courts calculate how much alimony will be paid, they must determine whether it will be ordered. Courts will consider many factors when determining alimony. Some of these factors include:
- How long the marriage was
- How spouses lived during the marriage
- The age and health of both spouses
- How much each spouse can earn
- The education level of both spouses
- The contribution of each spouse to the marriage (such as earning an income or home-making)
At times, the court may also consider other circumstances, such as whether one spouse has custody of a child or whether there are any special needs that need to be addressed. Ultimately, courts aim to make an alimony decision that is fair and equitable for both parties.
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Types of Alimony
There are three main types of alimony that a court can award:
This type of alimony is temporary, so it is meant as a short-term solution. It is typically awarded when one spouse needs financial assistance during divorce proceedings, but it is created to look like a final order. Once the divorce is finalized, temporary alimony payments will stop.
The court can order one party to pay temporary alimony during the divorce proceedings. This is meant to ensure parties can continue living and paying for expenses. Temporary alimony can become the final alimony order, but that is only if the original calculation works perfectly.
As its name suggests, this type of alimony is designed to help a spouse bridge the gap between their married life and their single life. Bridge-the-gap alimony typically lasts no longer than two years and usually cannot be modified after it is awarded because it has an end date.
One example of when bridge-the-gap alimony that could be awarded is to help a stay-at-home parent cover the costs of getting a higher education or getting a job after being out of the workforce for several years.
Rehabilitative alimony is similar to temporary alimony in that it is also awarded temporarily. However, rehabilitative alimony differs in that it is specifically intended to help a lower-earning spouse gain the education or training they need to enter the workforce or earn a higher salary.
Wrapping Up – How Much Alimony Will I Receive or Have to Pay?
Alimony is a complex and nuanced issue that depends on many different factors. Ultimately, the decision of how much alimony you will pay or receive (and for how long) boils down to a case-by-case assessment by the court. As such, it is important to work closely with your attorney to ensure that your alimony award is as fair and equitable as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What factors will a judge consider for you to get alimony?
Overall, when a judge creates an alimony order, they look at the alimony factors. These include factors such as how much each party makes, how much they should make, and whether they should be provided for. To decide that last one, they will look at what the lives of the parties looked like during the marriage, looking at things like how much time each person put into the relationship.
However, it is also important to note that the Illinois alimony factors are different than the alimony factors in Wisconsin. Be sure to look at state specific information when researching divorce and family law.
Why does alimony even exist?
Alimony exists to balance out the financial realities of marriage. When one party put their time into homemaking and/or raising the kids, they missed out on years of financial gain and professional experience. Because the other party did not miss out on that time, alimony balances out the economics of the relationship because it give that other party time to reestablish themselves and find a job or get the skills to get a job.
What qualifies you for alimony?
Someone is qualified to potentially get alimony if the other party makes more money than them. The court will look at a variety of other factors, but that is the basis of alimony.
How many years do you have to be married to get alimony?
Generally, if the marriage is over 10 years, alimony is much more likely to be an option. Each state has their specific length of time, but the length of a divorce is something that the court will look at. We
Do I have to support my wife after divorce?
You may be required to support your ex-spouse after the divorce. If you are not interested in doing this, you may be able to avoid it by paying lump-sum alimony instead. This allows you to give the other party one bulk payment in the beginning instead of payments over time.