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What is the Determining Factor on Who Pays Alimony?

When it comes to determining which spouse pays alimony, the courts consider a variety of factors, although these factors tend to vary slightly from state to state. Also sometimes called spousal support, the object of alimony is to help to financially provide for the living expenses of the spouse who earns the least amount of money.

This is especially necessary when one person earns considerably more than the other such as one spouse earning $100,000 a year and the other earning $20,000 a year. Alimony is separate from child support payments and it is calculated differently. Alimony is very often left up to the discretion of the judge who was assigned the case.

In making the decision about alimony, the judge will consider both spouses’ ability to earn a living, both at the present time and in the future. The age and health of each person will also be taken into account as will how long the two individuals were married and how much property was owned between them. How well each person conducts himself or herself in court will also play a defining role in determining alimony.

Alimony is becoming less and less common as more and more women are able to support themselves financially with or without the help of a man and many do not want any money (besides child support) from their exes once their marriages are over.

The one instance in which alimony is almost definitely awarded is when a couple has been married for a long time and the one person relied on the other almost entirely for financial support. If it can be shown that a person can never be economically independent then alimony is generally awarded.

Involved in a person’s ability to earn at the present time is his or her actual earnings. The judge will also consider whether or not the parties in question have the ability to earn more at the present time and are simply not willing to do so for whatever reason. Some, but not all states look at the amount of money a person currently earns and not what they could possibly earn.

It is important to note that when calculating net income, wage attachments (or the garnishing of wages) and deductions made for credit union payments are not subtracted in the majority of states.

Whether or not an individual can be self-supporting plays a role when it comes to how much alimony is set at and the length of time it is to be paid out. The courts consider whether or not the person has marketable skills and whether it is possible for that person to work outside of the home or not.

For example, if a woman has full custody of children who are not yet school age and does not have access to affordable daycare then she may very well not be able to work. Generally speaking if both ex-spouses are able to adequately support themselves then no alimony will be awarded to anyone.

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