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Factors Determining Alimony


The divorce court considers many factors when determining the alimony award. Circumstances considered to determine alimony can vary depending the alimony law set by the state. Many of the circumstances considered in property distribution are also considered when awarding alimony, including:

Income and property

Depending on the amount of income and property a spouse has, the more or less likely he or she will need alimony. The divorce court also uses income information to determine if a spouse can afford to pay alimony. Usually the divorce court orders alimony payments if there is a significant difference between the spouses' financial status. Some courts may give a larger property settlement to one spouse so the need for alimony is less.

Earning capacity and impairments

When considering length and amount of alimony awards, the divorce court works to understand both spouse's future earning abilities. The difference of the spouses' earning capacities can also help the divorce court determine what type of alimony to grant, such as rehabilitative alimony. If it's determined that one spouse has little or no potential in earning future income, the divorce court may assign permanent alimony. Common impairments the divorce court considers is chronic illness, old age and years spent as a homemaker.

Tax Consequences

Whether the paying spouse gets a tax benefit or has to pay more taxes because of the property division could determine if the divorce court will order an alimony award. If the supporting spouse gets a tax benefit, most likely the divorce court will award alimony, but if the paying spouse has to pay more taxes because of the property distribution, the divorce court may not award alimony. Alimony awards also affect taxes. Learn more about alimony and tax deductions.

Length of Marriage

In longer marriages, the divorce court typically grants alimony awards. The divorce courts will usually not grant alimony in shorter marriage, unless there are minor children. Alimony awards generally aren't longer than the marriage.

Fault in Divorce

In some states fault is not a factor in determining alimony. The divorce courts focus on economic factors to determine alimony. Other states do consider who was at fault in the divorce to determine if alimony should be awarded and how much.

Marriage Agreements

A valid prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement can be the deciding factor in any divorce. If the marriage agreement specifies how alimony should be handled and is accepted by the divorce court, then the couple will follow those rules, unless it's proven the contract is invalid. When a marriage agreement doesn't cover alimony, the decision is up to the divorce court and the circumstances of the case.

Standard of living

The divorce court will consider the standard of living the couple established during the marriage. If both parties are able to continue a similar lifestyle to the one they were use to during the marriage, then an alimony award may not be ordered. The court will not make the paying spouse support the receiving spouse's debt, even if that was the lifestyle in the marriage.

Contributions by either spouse

Reimbursement alimony may be awarded by the divorce court if one spouse put the other through training or education program. Even if a spouse doesn't need help with day-to-day expenses, the supporting spouse can receive an alimony award.


If there are minor children in the family, the divorce court may be more apt to grant alimony. An alimony award is usually ordered if one spouse spent time at home raising the children, limiting his or her work experience and earning capabilities. Alimony may be grouped with child support and called family support by some state divorce courts.

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer about Factors Affecting Alimony

A local divorce lawyer can advice you on how the circumstances of your divorce may affect an alimony award. Understand the divorce laws in your state and how the divorce court may rule by connecting with a attorney familiar with divorce law. Call 877-349-1310 or fill out a divorce case review form to get in touch with a divorce attorney today.

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