Factors for Determining Spousal Support

Factors for Determining Spousal Support

Alimony or spousal support is a provision for payments to be made from one previous spouse to the other after the marriage has been terminated. The factors to consider in the determination of spousal support are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and sometimes from case to case. There are many statutory variables must be considered by the courts to determine alimony. The parties can also assert their own variables into the arguments for or against spousal support in their specific case. Thus, the amount of factors for determining spousal support/alimony is too numerous to make an exact formula. This list is based on factors that are typically considered.

1. Financial Status of the Party Asking for Alimony

Alimony is indicated if one party cannot provide for his/herself through employment or assets. Courts do not want to put a person in a situation were the public will be paying for them if there are funds available for spousal support. On the other hand if a spouse has separate assets that are valuable it is unlikely they can make a claim for spousal support based solely on that.

2. Disparity in Income

Parties in a marriage often have significant differences in their moneymaking ability. These differences can be due to education, occupation, intelligence, gender, or one spouse sacrificing their career for the other spouse during the marriage. Often this disparity coincides with the birth of a child, because one parent often leaves the workforce. Historically men have made more than women just as a rule of thumb, today this may not be the case.

3. Length of the Marriage

Duration of the Marriage is a factor that is usually considered by courts, the longer the marriage the more likely a court is to award alimony.

4. Division of Property

The division of property can significantly influence whether alimony is going to be awarded. if a party receives a large portion assets they are less likely to be successful in making an argument for alimony.

5. Rehabilitation

Often there are statutes that are designed to provide a spouse with enough support to improve their financial condition, so that they can provide for themselves.

6. Ability to Pay

The ability of one spouse to make the payments should always be taken into consideration. If there is no ability for either party to pay, then an award of spousal support is unlikely.

7. Standard of living

The standard that a spouse was accustomed to during a marriage is a factor for determining support and the amount that would be awarded. The idea is that a person’s standard of living should be substantially similar after divorce to what it was before the divorce. However, from an economics stand point this is problematic, because after the divorce there are two separate economic units. Paying the costs for individuals to have the same standard of living they had when married, is substantially more expensive.

8. Tax Consequences

Alimony is a shifting of income; it counts as alimony to the receiving party and a deduction for the paying party. The tax benefit may encourage agreement to alimony by the spouse being asked to pay.

9. Condition of the Parties

The mental & physical condition, and age of a spouse are considerations in the determination of alimony. A spouse that is physically disabled may face substantial barriers to entering the workforce or supporting him/herself after the divorce. Other conditions may also make it difficult to enter the work force. Also, even though there are laws and regulations against age discrimination, age can still be a very real barrier to entering the work force.

10. Loss of a Career

If a spouse gave up their career in deference to the career of the other spouse, it can be argued that the spouse should be compensated for this sacrifice.

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