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Family and Relationships
Alimony/Spousal Support

Alimony refers to support paid by one spouse to the other to help the other spouse continue to live the way he or she lived while married. Alimony may be awarded to either party in a divorce action. The rules of alimony apply to both parties regardless of gender. Keep in mind that receiving alimony may affect your eligibility for public benefits. There are several different types of alimony.

Open Durational Alimony

Generally, open durational alimony is awarded only if the parties have been married for at least 20 years, or if one party is financially dependent or permanently unable to work because of disability or lack of skills or work experience. You may get alimony until you remarry, live with someone as though you are married (cohabitation), or the paying spouse reaches retirement age or dies. Either party may apply to the court after the divorce to adjust the amount of alimony when there has been a change in circumstances.

Limited Duration Alimony

You may get temporary alimony until the occurrence of a particular event, such as when you get a job. In determining how long to grant alimony, the court must consider how long it will take you to improve your earning capacity so that alimony is no longer needed. If you are awarded limited duration alimony, generally it will not last longer than the marriage did.  The court may change the award based on changed circumstances or if the expected event does not occur. The court may change the amount of the award but will rarely change the length of time for alimony to be paid.

Rehabilitative Alimony

You will probably get temporary rehabilitative alimony if you are likely to be able to support yourself after more education or training. You must show the specific steps for rehabilitation and the amount of time they are expected to take. This type of alimony may also be changed based upon changed circumstances.

Reimbursement Alimony

You may get this type of alimony if you supported your spouse through school or training and expected to benefit from your spouse’s increased income after he or she finished school.

In deciding whether or not to award alimony, the court will consider a number of factors. These include:

  • The parties’ actual needs and ability to pay
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and physical and emotional health of both parties
  • The standard of living established during the marriage and the parties’ abilities to maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living
  • The parties’ earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability
  • The length of time the party seeking alimony has been out of the job market
  • The parental responsibilities of the party seeking alimony
  • Each party’s financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage
  • Any other income available to the parties
  • The equitable distribution of property and debts
  • The tax consequences of any alimony award
  • The nature, amount, and length of pendente lite support paid, if any
  • Any other factors the court finds relevant.
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