Alimony is essentially a financial support payment made to the other spouse based on mutual agreement or court order. It's set up to protect the financially weaker spouse from being hit with unjust financial consequences of a divorce. The reason often used to justify alimony payments is having to give up one's job or educational goals to stay at home and take care of their family. This results in dependency on the support of the other spouse. Another justification used is that spouses can become accustomed to an elite lifestyle and cannot suddenly re-adjust to the changes after divorce and require additional financial support.
The courts have some discretion on decisions regarding alimony payments. They can choose whether to award alimony payments, the amount payable and the duration for maintaining the payments. The courts commonly analyze several factors when making such decisions:
- The age, as well as the physical and mental health of the spouses, are given significant importance. If the spouses are very old, then the dependent or financially weaker spouse might not be able to set up sufficient means for him/herself post-divorce. If a spouse is physically disabled or mentally ill, then in the event of a divorce they might not be in a condition to be finically independent.
- The duration of the training and education that the spouse will need for self-sufficiency as well as well as the associated costs. If the duration is very long and the cost is high, then courts can see this as an important point in favor of alimony awards.
- The lifestyle of the spouses in the duration of their marriage. If the couple lived a very elite lifestyle for a long period of time, then they might have gotten used to it and dependent upon said lifestyle.
- The feasibility and practicality of providing financial support for the spouse. There are cases where the court has to consider the ability of the spouse to provide alimony and whether he/she can support themselves as well.
The topic of alimony comes up very frequently when a divorce takes place, and it is common for spouses to attempt to secure alimony awards even when they have no need for it or to avoid paying alimony even when their spouse deserves it. To protect your interests and to secure the best possible outcome, it is recommended to consult an experienced attorney.