Alimony is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce case, and also one of the most unpredictable. While every jurisdiction has child support guidelines, that is not the case with regard to alimony.
Most jurisdictions have statutory factors that must be considered in an alimony case, such as the length of the marriage, monetary contributions to the family, non-economic contributions to the family, and the financial needs and resources of the parties.
As a general rule, the most important factors are the ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting, the amount of time necessary for that party to gain additional training or education to find suitable employment, and the ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her needs while contributing to the needs of the other party.
Alimony can be rehabilitative, meaning for a defined period of time until the recipient becomes self-supporting.
But alimony can also be indefinite, such as where the party seeking alimony is not likely to be self-supporting, perhaps because of age or a medical condition that limits his or her ability to earn income, or where the standards of living of the parties would be unconscionably different in the absence of alimony.
Sometimes, an alimony case requires the use of vocational experts who can offer testimony about a party’s employability and earning capacity.
If your case involves alimony, whether you are the party seeking alimony or the person being asked to pay, be sure to choose a lawyer who is familiar with the law and knows how to build your case.