In initial consults, one of the most pressing questions clients have is whether their case is “an alimony case.” When determining whether to award alimony, the family court looks to thirteen statutory factors, as follows:
(1) the duration of the marriage together with the ages of the parties at the time of the marriage and at the time of the divorce or separate maintenance action between the parties;
(2) the physical and emotional condition of each spouse;
(3) the educational background of each spouse, together with need of each spouse for additional training or education in order to achieve that spouse’s income potential;
(4) the employment history and earning potential of each spouse;
(5) the standard of living established during the marriage;
(6) the current and reasonably anticipated earnings of both spouses;
(7) the current and reasonably anticipated expenses and needs of both spouses;
(8) the marital and non-marital properties of the parties, including those apportioned to him or her in the divorce or separate maintenance action;
(9) custody of the children, particularly where conditions or circumstances render it appropriate that the custodian not be required to seek employment outside the home, or where the employment must be of a limited nature;
(10) marital misconduct or fault of either or both parties, whether or not used as a basis for a divorce or separate maintenance decree if the misconduct affects or has affected the economic circumstances of the parties, or contributed to the breakup of the marriage, (though there are exceptions);
(11) the tax consequences to each party as a result of the particular form of support awarded;
(12) the existence and extent of any support obligation from a prior marriage or for any other reason of either party; and
(13) such other factors the court considers relevant.
The family court must consider all relevant factors and give the appropriate weight to such factors as it sees fit. An experienced family law attorney will ensure each factor is fully argued through negotiations or a trial. A few considerations to keep in mind:
- The duration of marriage and disparity in income are the simplest determining factors as to whether alimony is at issue in the case. The remaining factors may then determine the amount of alimony awarded.
- Adultery is a complete bar to alimony, and other fault grounds may impact the alimony award.
- Not only custody of the children, but also child support payments will be considered.
- The tax consequences to each party significantly changed after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and impacted divorces from 2019 forward.
- Alimony can be awarded in various forms: Permanent-periodic, Lump-sum, Rehabilitative, Reimbursement, or Separate Maintenance and Support, which is temporary. Look for upcoming information on these types of alimony to follow in our next blog.
Alimony can be one of the most unpredictable issues at a divorce trial. An experienced attorney will help you retain as much control throughout the process as possible, and will fight for your rights. Contact Hyde Law Firm, P.A. today for a full assessment of your case and to discuss whether you may be paying or receiving alimony, 864-804-6330.