How is alimony calculated?

Unlike child support, there is no formula used to calculate alimony. Rather, the court will consider the unique circumstances of each case. Considerations such as the length of marriage, amount of income earned by each spouse, as well as other sources of income, vocational skills, employability, occupations, the cause of the marital breakdown, each spouse’s age, health, and needs and child care responsibilities will be taken into account.

Will I always have to pay the same amount of alimony?

If a court awards alimony to one party, the amount can be changed if one party is able to show a substantial change of circumstances. Lost employment or a significant salary increase of either party may warrant a change. The exception is when there is a non-modifiable order. However, in general, there would only be a non-modifiable order, if the parties agreed to make the amount of alimony non-modifiable.

A benefit of the collaboration and mediation process is that the parties can tailor their agreement in accordance with their family’s needs and the predictable changes that may occur over time. In collaboration and mediation the parties can account for such changes that may occur in one’s salary–whether due to seasonal work, quarterly or year end bonuses, or new employment–by including language in their agreement that takes into account the family’s particular flow of income without having to return to court for a modification, as would be necessary in the litigation process. In sum, the amount of alimony one pays at the time of the final dissolution of the marriage can remain the same, decrease, or increase over time, as the parties deem necessary for adequate support.

I’ve been told I will have to pay my spouse alimony. For how long will I be expected to do so?

Just as there is no set rule for calculating the amount of alimony one must pay, there also is no rule as to the term.  Each family situation is different. Considerations include, but are not necessarily limited to, the length of the marriage, the length of time the recipient may have been out of the work force, employability of the recipient (which may depend upon the economy or the recipient’s educational background and past work experience, among other things) the ages of the parties, the needs of the recipient and the health of the parties.