Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is sometimes requested in a divorce either for a short-term, such as two years, until a party can be reasonably expected to be self-supporting, or for an indefinite time, which can continue until either party dies or the recipient remarries. The latter option is most often considered in long term marriages where there is an unconscionable disparity in incomes.
There are many factors to be taken into account in determining the amount and duration of alimony, including (1) the length of the marriage, (2) standard of living established during the marriage, (3) age and education level of each party, (4) each party’s health, (5) the financial needs and resources of each party, (6) the circumstances that contributed to the separation, (7) the reasonable needs of the party seeking alimony, and (8) the other person’s ability to pay. If a party is either unemployed or under-employed, a vocational expert might be needed to testify about that person’s reasonable ability to earn a salary once s/he becomes gainfully employed.
Often post-divorce circumstances can change, requiring the parties to revisit the spousal support either awarded by the court or agreed to by the parties in their settlement agreement. Modification of spousal support is a fairly common practice.