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All You Need to Know about Alimony

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is the financial support of a spouse provided by the other spouse after a divorce. Divorce can cause economic instability to at least one of the spouses. Alimony is awarded by the court to protect the other spouse who is under- or unemployed.

If you are filing for divorce, a reputable lawyer can help you in the process. The law can be complicated, and there are many factors and circumstances to be considered. An experienced divorce attorney can help make the process smoother and less stressful.

Either of the spouses can request for spousal support. The court will evaluate the following factors to determine how much support will be given and for how long:

  • The financial condition and the needs of the receiving spouse.
  • The earning capacity of the receiving spouse, factoring in that the spouse had limited experience or had to give up a career to focus on caring for the children and the family.
  • The ability of the paying spouse to provide alimony.
  • The length of the marriage.
  • Whether the receiving spouse is in the custody of a minor child who also needs support.
  • Whether the receiving spouse worked for a company owned or operated by the paying spouse.
  • Whether the receiving spouse contributed to an increase in the skills of the paying spouse, by financially supporting the paying spouse’s education or allowing the spouse to attend school and job training during their marriage.

The court will look at the individual financial situation of each spouse and compare their earning capacities. The court will request a financial statement from each spouse to examine their income and debt.

The judge will also consider the “fault” or any misconduct of a spouse that led to the dissolution of the marriage. “Fault” can include any of the following:

  • Engaging in extramarital affairs or adultery
  • Inflicting physical abuse to the spouse or a minor child
  • Undermining the other spouse’s financial stability

When determining the alimony for short-duration marriages without children involved, the court might consider returning each spouse to their financial situation at the time of their marriage. The courts do not use any formula to calculate alimony. The judge will base the spousal support amount on the factors mentioned and other circumstances related to the case. If you want to have some control over the process, you and your spouse can mediate and negotiate through a settlement agreement.

The purpose why alimony is ordered is to maintain the standard of living of both spouses, or as close as possible to their marital lifestyle. The judge will base it on the couple’s standard of living at the time of their separation. Even if you have lived a lavish lifestyle in the first few years of marriage, alimony will still be based on your current living situation.


Duration of Alimony

The court will not order alimony that will extend beyond the marriage’s number of years. The court can extend the alimony period if it finds strong circumstances that can justify the extension of spousal support.

Unless there is a special provision, alimony will automatically end upon the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. However, alimony will resume upon the annulment of the remarriage. The court order will also terminate once the paying spouse establishes that the receiving spouse cohabits with another individual after the issuance of the order for spousal support. The paying spouse must report the cohabitation of the other spouse to court and request for termination of alimony within one year of discovery.

Types of Alimony

There are three types of alimony that the Utah courts might issue: temporary, short-term, and long-term alimony.

  • Temporary alimony can be issued while the court proceedings for the divorce are ongoing.
  • Short-term alimony allows the receiving spouse the time to gain the necessary skills and education to improve income capacity.
  • Long-term alimony, also known as permanent alimony, is granted to a spouse with specific needs and usually to couples who had a lengthy marriage.

Modification of Alimony Orders

Either spouse can request for review and modification on the alimony order unless it is non-modifiable. There must be a substantial and significant change in the circumstances for the request to be granted.

The following circumstances might warrant a review of the alimony order:

  • The paying spouse suffers from disability or health issues that prevent him or her from working.
  • The paying spouse becomes unemployed. If the receiving spouse loses his or her job, he or she can request an increase in alimony.
  • Either spouse suffers monetary difficulties or crises.
  • The paying spouse retires from work.

Alimony can be complicated. Seek the help of an experienced divorce attorney so you can get reasonable and favorable results.

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