The mere mention of this word can strike terror in the heart of anyone who may have to pay. It can also be a lifeline for a needy spouse.
The Court will consider spousal support or alimony if after dividing the assets and debts, one spouse still needs financial support from the other. The Court looks to the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the financial situation of each party. The Court will also consider the age and health of each party.
Alimony can be permanent, durational, rehabilitative, or bridge-the-gap. In some cases, the Court may award lump sum alimony. The longer the marriage, typically the longer the term of alimony will be.
Rehabilitative alimony may be ordered to allow a spouse to improve his or her marketability. For example, if a spouse is in school, the judge may order the other spouse to contribute to the support of the spouse attending school. This form of alimony requires the requesting party to present a plan for the Court to consider.
Bridge the gap alimony is used to facilitate the transition from married life to single life. This may include help with car payments or moving expenses. The award cannot exceed two years.
Durational alimony is alimony for a fixed period of time when none of the other forms of alimony are appropriate. Generally, this type of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage.
Permanent alimony is available in certain situations. Contrary to popular belief, this form of alimony still exists. It is designed to help a spouse who will be very unlikely to maintain a standard of living which is reasonably close to what was enjoyed during the marriage.
It is important to keep in mind that there is no bright line. Unlike in setting child support, there is no guideline for judges to use. As a result, judges have a lot of discretion in determining which type of alimony is appropriate and the amount of the award.
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