3 Factors Courts Consider When Calculating Alimony Payments

Alimony is one of the most important issues in divorce. When calculating alimony payments, the judge takes into consideration the length of the marriage and the respective incomes of the spouses. The final amount is determined by other circumstances that are relevant to that particular case. Then the judge decides how long you will make those payments. Here are 3 factors courts consider when calculating alimony payments.

1. Need for Alimony and Ability to Pay

If the judge decides to award alimony to one spouse, it will take into account the ability of the other spouse to pay to determine the amount. The judge may consider, among other things:

  • How the couple is dividing their assets during the divorce
  • Each spouse’s individual assets, income, and obligations
  • The ability of the dependent spouse to maintain the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage
  • How long the couple was married
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The children’s needs, and whether the dependent spouse will be able to return to work bearing childcare responsibilities
  • The dependent spouse’s marketable skills and whether they abandoned their career to raise children or be a homemaker
  • The possibility of either spouse acquiring assets in the future (e.g. inheritance or stock options)

2. Earning Capacity

The judge may also assess the couple’s individual ability to earn money, putting aside their actual income. Ideally, if one spouse could earn much more than they currently are but chooses not to do so, then the other spouse should not have to incur any financial burden as a result. For example, if you are a trained doctor but are voluntarily working as a shop attendant, the court may order you to pay support that is in accordance with your earning power as opposed to your actual income. If you are the dependent spouse, the court may order you to fend for yourself or award support that is consistent with your earning ability.

3. Fault

Sometimes fault may be considered when determining spousal support. If the wealthier spouse is shown to be at fault for the divorce (perhaps he/she was abusive or committed adultery), the court may increase the support payment. However, there is only so much a person can afford to pay, so the judge cannot order an unrealistically high amount. If the fault is on the recipient spouse, they may have their payments reduced.

Spousal support is designed to ensure that you do not run into financial problems immediately after divorce. Rather than depending on the alimony payments for your financial security, make a short term and long-term plan for your life, including the type of work you want to be doing. Learn to budget and invest wisely any assets you received in the settlement.

If you need an experienced attorney to represent you in your case, you can count on the Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A. We have a team of highly qualified and experienced legal professionals who can guide you through your divorce to get the best possible outcome. Contact us now.