For those husbands who have been doing their homework, or are in the middle of heated divorce negotiations, you have probably become concerned about how alimony seems to play a role in just about every divorce you have heard or read about. But in reality, alimony is almost always “brought up” in these divorce cases, but there is nothing that says that each and every soon-to-be ex-husband should have to expect to pay for his ex-wife’s living expenses. Each individual divorce is different, and with so many factors involved in the alimony decision, you need to take a really good look at the circumstances of your case and determine exactly where you stand.
Depending on where you reside, alimony can be referred to by many names (i.e. spousal support, maintenance payments, etc), but it all involves a court order, or an out-of-court agreement, in which you have to pay X amount of money to help with your ex-wife’s living expenses. Alimony, or spousal support, can present itself in the form of a lump sum payment, or regular monthly payments that are similar in nature to child support. The amount and duration of the spousal support is determined by a number of different factors, some of which I will attempt to explain in a little bit more detail below…
It’s probably best to start with the most obvious scenario where can expect to pay some kind of alimony. This involves a marriage that took place over a longer time period (15, 20, or even more years) and your wife spent the greater portion of it as a “stay-at-home mom”. In this case you were probably the only source of income for many years and you really can’t expect that to change the moment that you get a divorce. She will have an even stronger case for getting alimony if she continues to be the primary caregiver for your kids even after the divorce is finalized.
“On my Soapbox…What I don’t agree with is what tends to happen in these situations. To award anybody, “life-long” alimony payments is an injustice. So even after all your kids have grown up and moved out, you will still have to continue paying alimony. The only way out of it is if she re-marries, or if she takes on a job where she can make enough money to continue her standard of living. The standard of living that you gave her some 15 years ago. This has become a big issue lately, and you can find countless organizations that are hard at work trying to reform such practices. We can only hope that there are enough people out there listening!… Steps down from soapbox.”
Alimony may be issued in other circumstances, but generally these situations are time limited and are awarded when the marriage has lasted for a shorter time period (ie 5-10 years). If you made the majority of the income, but she is capable of finding suitable employment that can cover her own “standard of living”, then the judge may order alimony payments in order to give her time to find such a job. These time periods vary, but hopefully it should be no longer than a year. Her “capabilities” include education and experience. In some situations, the alimony may continue while she acquires the education and/or experience, but if you are diligent you should be able to avoid the “life-long” alimony trap.
Then there is the situation when you wife tries to “win” alimony payments after you have been married for 3 years or less. This is when you need to make a stand. Your divorce attorney should be able to pose an argument that you haven’t been married long enough for her to be accustomed to such an “extravagant” standard of living. That is unless you were already wealthy, in which case I hope that you had the foresight to get a prenuptial agreement. If not then you can expect to have to pay something, usually some type of lump sum payment.
Anyway, it’s hard to make general statement about alimony because it is dependent on so many factors. The length of your marriage, your standard of living, your job/income, her job/income, the aptitude of your divorce attorney, and even the judge, all have some bearing on the alimony issue. Just remember, alimony payments are tax deductible for you and, Yes, men can be granted alimony too!