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Determining Alimony Payments

There is no clear-cut rule regarding the amount of alimony that should be awarded. An attorney that understands the intricacies of alimony law will address and examine certain factors to determine the quantity and variety of compensation that is appropriate. You’re welcome to contact our divorce and family law attorneys if you have any specific questions about your case.

Permanent Periodic Alimony

Permanent periodic alimony is an amount to be paid at regular intervals until the final judgment is modified, a spouse dies, or the receiving spouse remarries. Permanent periodic alimony is based on the need for support, and the ability to pay. The ability of a spouse to pay is based on present earnings, not on what the spouse may make in the future.

Alimony Factors Considered By the Courts

Standard of Living

Standard of living is determined by the need of one spouse, plus the other’s ability to pay. Permanent alimony can be used to provide support for the payee in the manner in which they are accustomed. However, the party paying the alimony cannot be required to support the spouse’s standard of living if it exceeds their financial ability.

Duration of Marriage

There’s a direct correlation between the length of the marriage and the amount of alimony to be awarded. However, a marriage of less than seven years is defined as short-term, between seven and 17 is considered a moderate amount of time, and a long-term marriage has lasted 17 years or more. Permanent periodic alimony may be awarded following a long-term marriage, a moderate marriage if appropriate, and a short-term marriage in particular circumstances.

Age and Physical and Emotional Conditions of the Parties

Permanent alimony is appropriate when a party can demonstrate that he or she will be unable to become self-supporting in the future because of age or a physical or emotional condition. A similar assessment is made to determine if the other party can pay.

Financial Resources of Each Party

The court will consider the financial resources of both parties, including marital and nonmarital assets and liabilities, all sources of income, and any eligible investments.

Imputed Income

Imputed income is the future income that is not yet being earned. A calculation is done to determine an appropriate amount of money for spousal maintenance and child support using this income.

Earning Capacity and Time Required to Obtain Training or Education

No matter the case, the court must consider the earning capabilities, educational levels, employability of the parties and, when applicable, the time needed for either party to acquire sufficient education or training that will find them appropriate employment.

Contributions to the Marriage

The courts recognize that the raising children and running a household are often just as important and difficult as being the breadwinner. These contributions to the marriage factor in to the court’s decisions.


Marital misconduct that depletes the marital assets is used for alimony purposes. Even outrageous, reprehensible conduct by a partner does not justify alimony unless it causes financial waste.

Durational Alimony

When permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate, durational alimony is awarded to provide the needy party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a short-term or medium length marriage. This temporary reprieve usually lasts for the duration of the marriage or less. Only specific circumstances can lead to a change in the amount of money received or the time frame of the durational alimony.

Bridge-the-Gap Alimony

This is provided to help a future divorcee by providing support for the transition between being married and being single. Bridge-the-gap alimony can last for a maximum of 2 years and it cannot be modified in either amount or duration.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is used to assist a spouse in becoming self-sufficient. If the rehabilitating spouse does not clearly outline a plan or make an effort to become self-supportive, they will not be awarded this form of alimony. A divorce attorney must present this plan in verbal or written form in court.

The amount is typically greater than permanent periodic alimony. It can be paid periodically or in a lump sum. Rehabilitative alimony is terminated upon completion of the plan or if a partner becomes noncompliant.

Lump-Sum Alimony

A lump-sum distribution is kind of misleading, as a court can order it to be paid in installments. For example, if the distribution of assets leaves one party owing money, your divorce lawyer can have the alimony ordered as a lump sum in order to solidify the payment terms.