March 19, 2018
In my experience, it’s rare that any aspect of a divorce creates more anxiety than ALIMONY – not property division, custody or visitation, child support, or any other aspect of divorce. For many the word itself results in sleepless nights, a racing heart, nausea or worse. To payor and recipient alike the unshakeable fear is “Will I, or did I, get a rotten deal?”
Why is there some much angst about alimony? Because the law is complex and frequently the law isn’t helpful in predicting alimony for a particular divorcing couple.
When it comes to child support, one looks to the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, plugs in three relevant items – number of children and amount of earnings for each parent– and gets a number. Child support will last until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. While there can be variations for specific situations, there is some level of certainty. In contrast, when it comes to the amount and the length of alimony, the law gives only a list of factors to be considered:
- Length of the marriage
- Cause(s) of the divorce
- Age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, vocational skills, education and employability of each spouse
- Estate and needs of the spouses
- The property division
- Where there are minor children, desirability of the custodial parent securing employment.
Making matters even more confusing, the law allows the judge to place whatever weight on the factors the judge thinks are relevant in a particular case. The result is that what one judge would order for alimony isn’t necessarily the same or sometimes even similar to, what another judge would order on the same facts. No wonder alimony causes anxiety. Also, from tales of such disparity, myths and misconceptions have evolved. Let me clear up some of them.
- Alimony isn’t used to penalize a spouse for having an affair or wanting the divorce or to reward a spouse who wants to stay married. The spouse who had the affair might not have to pay alimony and might even receive alimony.
- Gender doesn’t matter. A person isn’t entitled to alimony just because she’s a woman. Women can be required to pay alimony to men and vice versa.
- The law considers only the length of the marriage and not the length of the spouses’ romantic relationship. This is especially relevant to same sex couples who may have a long term relationship but were not able to marry legally until recently.
- The term for alimony isn’t automatically half, or any other fraction, of the length of the marriage.
- Even where one spouse is a stay at home parent, if the marriage is of short duration, it is unlikely that there would be alimony over a long term.
Because there are no formulas or definitive rules, a lawyer can’t precisely predict the amount and duration of alimony to expect, and certainly, can’t guaranty the result of a trial. But, an experienced divorce lawyer can develop a reasonable range of probable results to assist you in evaluating the alimony you might have to pay or could expect to receive and the alimony length. That will alleviate at least some of the anxiety in the process.
Feel free to contact me to explore the next steps toward alleviating your alimony anxiety. 203-271-3888. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the Cheshire Citizen for publishing this blog post in the March 14, 2018 edition.« Back to all news