Alimony in the District of Columbia

Alimony, also called spousal support, is a significant concern for many divorcing couples. If one spouse has been the primary breadwinner, the other spouse may need alimony to manage financially during or after divorce. The higher-earning spouse may be concerned not only about how to provide for their own support, but also how to support the other spouse after divorce.

Alimony is paid by one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce or legal separation. Depending upon the circumstances, it may be awarded for a defined time period (“term limited alimony”), or until there is a reason for the court to terminate it (“indefinite alimony”). Temporary alimony may even be awarded to help support one spouse during the divorce process; this is called alimony pendente lite, or “during the litigation.”

The function of alimony is to provide the person requesting it with “reasonable and necessary” support. How much support is reasonable, and how long it is necessary, can be decided by agreement of the parties. If the parties cannot agree that it is needed, or on the duration or amount of payments, one party may ask the court to make an alimony award.

Whether you hope to receive alimony, or expect to be asked for it, you need sound legal counsel. The attorneys of Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield will listen to your concerns and goals and help you understand how the law of the District of Columbia applies to your unique situation. We will advocate with every tool at our disposal to protect your financial interests during the divorce and as you move forward with your life afterward.

How District of Columbia Courts Determine Alimony

In order to be awarded alimony, one spouse must ask the court for it as part of the divorce or legal separation. If it is not requested as part of the legal case, after divorce a former spouse may not later go back to the court to request it, no matter how much it may be needed.

The party asking for alimony must demonstrate not only that he or she needs it, but that the other party is able to pay it. The court will award it if doing so seems “just and proper” after consideration of the following relevant factors:

  • The ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
  • The time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to secure suitable employment
  • The standard of living that the parties established during the marriage, but giving consideration to the fact that there will be two households to maintain
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The circumstances which contributed to the estrangement of the parties
  • The age of each party
  • The physical and mental condition of each party
  • The ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her needs while meeting the needs of the other party
  • The financial needs and resources of each party, including income, income from assets, both those that are the property of the marriage and those that are not, potential income which may be imputed to non-income producing assets of a party, any previous award of child support in this case, the financial obligations of each party, and right of a party to receive retirement benefits
  • The taxability or non-taxability of income

Both the spouse requesting alimony and the one being asked to pay it will need to provide documentation of their income and expenses for the court’s consideration.

How We Help with Your Alimony Issues

Having the financial resources you need both during and after your divorce will affect your options as you enter this new chapter of life, and for many years to come. At Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield, we are committed to helping you achieve your financial goals in divorce. Our attorneys have decades of experience in family law practice in the District of Columbia, including complex alimony cases; we approach these matters with tactical precision and creative insight to protect your interests. We strive to help you reach an agreement that aligns with your goals, but if necessary, we are more than prepared to advocate for your needs at trial.

A court’s decision to award alimony, and the amount and duration of the award, depends on the evidence presented and the persuasiveness of the argument. Our extensive background in these matters allows us to present the court with the information and justification it needs to rule in your favor.

We invite you to contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield and schedule a consultation to discuss your individual situation and learn how we can help you with your alimony concerns.