Alimony Guidelines

Alimony Guidelines: What type of alimony is best suited for your divorce? What is alimony used for? Divorce and Alimony questions answered Real-Divorce style, with alimony forums available for free!

Ok, it goes without saying that each state is different in how they handle their alimony calculator. The main considerations in how courts handle alimony are:

  • The viability and earning potential of each spouse,
  • The assets each owns (joint and separate),
  • The length of the marriage,
  • The standard of living during the marriage, and
  • Children still at home, especially if they are younger than kindergarten age.

When I got divorced, we were only together for six years and had one child. We both had master's degrees and lived in NJ. NJ is really liberal towards men spending more time with children and doesn't favor women staying home to care for children. In NJ, fault is NOT considered in the alimony guideline, even though I wanted to stay home with my young child.

So, there are some "alimony states" that might be more in favor of awarding alimony to a spouse (usually the female), although there are some states which are open to "palimony," which is alimony for men. And some states that favor both parties working to their potential, rather than having a spouse collect alimony.

I also want to point out early that alimony and child support are in fact different. Alimony is supposed to be for a spouse, and child support is for a children's expenses. Alimony is taxable income for the receiving spouse, and child support is non-taxable money for the custodial parent to use towards the child's expenses.

If you are separated already, you will be missing out financially if you don't file for child support benefits ASAP. You can file for free (usually, and through the government's website) and even download the forms online through ACF. See the Real-Divorce Child Support Pages for more info on child support and your options.

Much more to come on this topic of Alimony Guidelines!

Divorce and Alimony: Alimony States and Other Biases

A few biases or controversial topics I'll mention that are related to divorce and alimony and alimony guidelines:

  • Life Insurance Policies: Lots of sources say that a woman should ask that her ex husband maintain a life insurance policy in her name should he die (and then she would have some source of income in the future rather than nothing). This is a very wise decision, however, in some situations, like when children are part of the marriage, the male may ask the female also maintain a life insurance policy in her name. She is often unable to do so.
  • Men just don't want to pay it! So, it's often an uphill battle for the female to get alimony. Which makes for a contested divorce, draining of whatever money you have to pay attorney's fees. It makes sense for husbands to accept alimony and look into the alimony guidelines to see what is really fair, even if men don't "like" paying it.
  • Some states have FAULT, and others do not in their alimony guidelines. So, it's actually easier in certain states to get alimony, even if the situation is exactly the same, because the courts favor the wife's position. Make sure you read the Divorce and Alimony Page to find out more about alimony states.

What Is Alimony?

So, what is alimony? There are a few types of alimony. There is not necessarily a set alimony guideline. However, one important thing to mention is that the payor has to actually MAKE enough money to care for himself (and pay child support) before he would actually be required to pay out for alimony. I will say "he" is the payor because that is the reality. It's rare that women are paying men.

The courts don't see women as "deserving" alimony just because the marriage is ending. There actually has to be a good reason. Here are the types of alimony and what they are for:

  • Temporary Alimony: Pendente lite, this type of alimony is used during a separation, and must be filed for separately.
  • Permanent Alimony: This type of alimony is the one we typically hear about, when the female has limited skills and stayed home to care for children or be a homemaker, and upon divorce, is unable to maintain a good income without financial help. And, also, this assumes the man has supported her all along. Usually, a marriage of 10 years is considered enough time to warrant permanent alimony. Do remember that marital assets (such as pensions and property) would need to be divided, along with debts.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is used over a specific duration of time to bring one spouse up to a certain level of income.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: This type of alimony is used to reimburse one party for taking a hit for the family, such as when a wife works so that the husband can attend school.
  • Lump Sum Alimony: This type of alimony is used to pay back a spouse for expenses, even if other types of alimony would not be applicable.

Again, there is no "cookie cutter" for alimony guidelines amounts. You may or may not qualify for alimony, and you may or may not receive it or be required to pay it. If you are smart, you will bring this topic up to discuss openly, and use these alimony guidelines as a starting point to come to a fair agreement, so that you don't have to spend countless hours and energy on debating this issue.

How to Make an Alimony Amount Legal!!

If you and your spouse AGREE to an amount before or right before going to court, you may create your own agreement using a mediator, collaborative divorce attorneys, or on your own (PRO SE).

Remember, any agreements you have should be IN WRITING. I can't tell you how important this is. In fact, I had negotiated for alimony and it was spelled out in our MOU, or a Memorandum of Understanding, from my separation, done with our mediator, but this is not a legally binding document. When push came to shove, it wasn't honored, and my ex walked away without having to pay any alimony because I didn't get it into the Property Settlement Agreement.

You absolutely MUST get the information into a property settlement agreement, separation agreement, a marital settlement agreement, or a case information statement. Any of these documents would all be legally binding if they are brought to and approved by the courts. One easy way to do this is to pay the small fee for Rocketlawyer to gain access to their forms, fill out your property settlement agreement first, and do the rest of your divorce paperwork as it comes up. ALL Legal Documents are FREE to TRY

How Do I Get Alimony?

Again, if you already have an agreement, GREAT! Otherwise, you may be looking at a contested divorce. You can do a contested divorce completely pro se, or you may hire an attorney to help you. Just remember, that using an attorney is costly, and does not necessarily lead to a definite win for a woman who wants alimony. There are no guarantees.

Of course, if you have good reasons, you absolutely SHOULD look into your options. The best ways to do this is to ask online to qualified attorneys, use forums, or call around for some free consults. And see my contested divorce, uncontested divorce, attorney, and sitemap pages for more information about these topics.

Beyond that, you must file your divorce paperwork and include alimony in the petition at that time. Some courts do not allow you to go back later and ask for alimony, so you must know your plan up front.

Spousal Support Modification

Either spouse can initiate a spousal support modification. Just like with termination, there are many factors that influence what is approved and not approved. Generally, modifications may occur when changes happen, like disability or change in income for either party. Make sure you read the full page above.

Termination of Spousal Support

The termination of spousal support is a tricky topic, because I am pretty sure most women don't want it to end abruptly or at all, and because most men will be happy to not pay it anymore. Either spouse can initiate a motion to terminate the spousal support with good cause.

Some common reasons for the termination of spousal support are:

  • Female gets remarried or is living with a new partner,
  • Death of the male(payor),
  • Disability in the male,
  • Major job changes or job loss of the male.

Summary of Alimony Guidelines

Again, to summarize, each specific situation is different, however, there are some basic alimony guidelines which are typically used. Seek as much help as you can to figure out what is best for you! Use this resource to get some answers to your questions as they come up for you. The Avvo Box is free, very useful, and has never let me down! Just post your question, and qualified attorneys will give you some answers online.

Jennifer here, letting you know that you can ask any legal question online for free using Avvo. It's a great service that I am happy to recommend, and I don't even get paid for telling you this! You will see this box on EVERY page of the Real-Divorce site because that's how important it is!

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