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How is the alimony amount determined?

If you've been told that alimony could be a factor in your divorce, it's normal to have questions about what the amount will be. While this is dependent on the factors specific to your divorce, there are some general rules to be aware of. However, keep in mind that there are no hard and fast formulas for determining alimony, and the courts have a great deal of discretion in what they consider.

Length of marriage

This is arguable one of the most important factors. In general, the longer the marriage, the more the alimony will be. However, this usually equates to a paying the payments for a longer period or time unless you elect to do a lump sum payment.

Income and earning potential of both parties

Alimony is most commonly awarded when there is a large income disparity between the two parties. For instance, if one person has traditionally worked a high paying job while the other did not work outside the house, the dependent spouse may be awarded alimony for to ensure that there is enough financial support.

The standard of living

Especially in long-term marriages, the courts may be more likely to award alimony in cases where the divorce is going to result in one party having a significant change in their standard of living. In the example used above, perhaps the dependent spouse has limited earning potential and would have a much lower standard of living after the divorce. This may be enough for the courts to award alimony payments. However, in many states, any evidence of illicit sexual behavior by the dependent spouse during the marriage can mean no alimony is awarded at all.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," accessed July 06, 2016

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