In some situations, a spouse may need to ask for alimony during their divorce. Particularly when one spouse has remained home to care for children or the household, or helped the other spouse’s career development or education, an alimony request may be necessary. Divorcing spouses should know under what circumstances a alimony award may be granted.
When alimony may be awarded during divorce
The spouse requesting alimony must meet certain eligibility requirements to receive alimony including:
- The spouse requesting alimony must be considered substantially dependent. This means that the recipient spouse is dependent on the other spouse, who would be the paying spouse, in such a way that they cannot maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage without alimony support.
- The spouse requesting alimony is substantially in need of support. This means that the recipient spouse is unable to maintain the lifestyle the divorcing couple established during marriage without the paying spouse’s financial contribution.
In some instances, the court may not award alimony or will decide, based on its discretion, if it will award alimony. This can include in instances of sexually illicit behavior committed by one or both of the divorcing spouses.
Considerations for awarding alimony
In addition to deciding eligibility, the divorce court will have to decide if alimony will be awarded, for how long it will be awarded and what amount will be awarded. In reaching its decision, the divorce court will consider a variety of different factors ranging from any marital misconduct and the duration of the marriage to the ages, physical, mental and emotional conditions of the spouses to their earning capacities and any other factor it views as relevant to making an alimony determination. Because alimony determinations can be complex, it is helpful for divorcing couples to know in advance how they are evaluated so they can fight for what they need.