The statutory factors considered by family court judges in evaluating the issue of alimony are as follows:
- Standard of Living-When making a determination regarding the amount of alimony or whether to award alimony at all, a court may consider the social standing and luxuries of life which the spouse had been enjoying and would have continued to enjoy had there been no separation. Thus, if the husband and wife lived an extravagant or luxurious lifestyle when married due to the high income of the husband, this lifestyle would be considered in awarding alimony to the wife especially if she could not maintain that same lifestyle or social standing on her own.
- Duration of the Marriage-If a court does award alimony, the longer the marriage, the longer a spouse will pay alimony. Although there is no set alimony calculation, a marriage that lasted for thirty years is more likely to result in an alimony award than a 3 year marriage. However, keep in mind that regardless of the duration of the marriage, if a court determines that a spouse is not in need of alimony or that the other spouse has no ability to pay, even the demise of a 30 year marriage can result in no alimony award.
- Financial Resources of Each Party The term “financial resources” is very broad and inclusive. Included in a party’s financial resources are all assets of the parties, specifically but not limited to, property and any associated expenses, income, debts, retirement benefits, and military benefits.Similar to the analysis of each party’s physical and emotional condition, financial factors help the court determine the needs of each party and each party’s ability to pay alimony. The more individual financial resources a party has, the less the need for alimony, and vice versa.
- Time Needed to Obtain Employment The fourth factor a court will consider is the “time necessary for either party to acquire sufficient education or training to enable him to find appropriate employment. This factor is most applicable in situations wherein one spouse was a stay at home mother or father. In this situation, that spouse may not have the skills necessary to obtain employment post-divorce if he or she has been out of the workforce for an extended time. As a result, a judge may award alimony for a period of time that would allow that spouse to acquire the skills necessary to obtain appropriate employment. Once that spouse has the training or education that he or she needs to obtain employment, alimony will no longer be needed.
- Physical and Emotional Condition of the Parties The fifth factor to be considered is the “age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties. A court’s analysis of the parties’ physical and emotional condition is essential to the courts need versus ability to pay alimony analysis. For example, if one spouse is elderly or has a medical condition requiring extensive treatment, that spouse has a strong argument supporting his or her need for alimony. Conversely, if alimony was sought from that same spouse, that spouse would have a very strong argument that his or her age or condition limits their ability to pay alimony.
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List the statutory factors considered by family court judges in evaluating the issue of alimony.