Understanding how alimony awards are arrived at during divorce

Spousal Support
Understanding how alimony awards are arrived at during divorce

Alimony can be an area of disagreement during a divorce. Because it can be a contentious issue, it is helpful for divorcing couples to know what factors are used to determine alimony and what types of alimony may be awarded as part of their divorce settlement agreement.

Factors used to determine alimony awards

Several factors are used to arrive at an alimony award including:

  • Any history of marital misconduct;
  • The earnings of each of the spouses and their relative earning capacities;
  • The physical, mental and emotional conditions of the spouses;
  • The ages of the spouses;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • If one spouse contributed to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse;
  • The extent to which one of the spouses may be impacted by acting as a custodian to a minor child related to their earning power, expenses and financial obligations;
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses;
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage;
  • The relative needs of the spouses;
  • The tax ramifications of an alimony award; and
  • Any other factor that impacts the economic circumstances of the spouse and the family law court finds relevant.

Alimony may be awarded as a lump sum payment or as a periodic payment. It can also include the transfer of property or income withholding. Alimony, or spousal support, can be requested by either of the spouses during the divorce process. Because it is a significant ask, divorcing spouses should be familiar with how alimony may be determined in their divorce settlement.