In the wake of a divorce, many individuals experience financial instability. However, Utah family laws have provisions in place to protect spouses that are either unemployed or make less income than their spouse. Alimony, also known as spousal support, may be ordered by the court during the divorce process and even for a period of time after in many cases. Here, our South Jordan divorce attorneys explain the requirements for alimony as well as how long alimony can be paid in our latest blog.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Alimony?
In Utah, the court doesn’t consider the spouse’s gender when deciding whether to award support. This means either spouse is allowed to request alimony. The judge does, however, look at several factors in order to determine the type of alimony, the amount of support necessary, as well as the duration of alimony.
Factors the judge will use to make alimony decisions may include:
- What are the financial conditions and needs of the supported spouse?
- What is the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to earn an income?
- Can the paying spouse pay support while having the ability to maintain financial independence?
- How long was the couple married?
- Is the recipient the custody parent of a child that needs child support?
- Does the recipient spouse work for a business owned or operated by the paying spouse?
- Did the recipient contribute to an increase in the paying spouse’s income by helping pay for their education or job training during the marriage?
- Was one spouse considered at fault for the marriage ending?
The last factor mentioned above does have limitations for whether the judge can use it to determine alimony. In Utah, a divorce can be granted on fault-based grounds, which may include adultery, physical abuse/threats to the other spouse or their children, or undermining the other spouse’s financial stability.
The court cannot use alimony to punish a spouse for acting in a misbehaving manner. Only in rare circumstances will the judge use one of these reasons to determine alimony decisions. Typically, the at-fault spouse must have contributed so much damage due to their behavior that the other spouse will have trouble adjusting to life without the assistance of financial support.
What is the Maximum Length of Time Someone Can Receive Alimony?
The judge also has the power to determine the duration of alimony payments in Utah family courts. Typically, the couple’s standard of living at the time of separation is used to determine alimony. However, in shorter marriages with no children, the court may consider the standard of living when the marriage began instead.
The length of alimony is almost always dependent on the length of the marriage. For example, a common standard used to decide alimony duration is that for every three years of marriage, one year of alimony should be paid. Alimony cannot be ordered for a period longer than the duration of the couple’s marriage. Only in special cases, where there are valid reasons backed by concrete evidence, will alimony be paid longer than the length of time of the marriage.
While the duration of the marriage is the biggest determining factor in deciding how long alimony is to be paid, there are other instances of when the alimony duration may stop. For example, alimony may be discontinued if the receiving spouse gets remarried or begins cohabitating with a new partner.
Speak to a South Jordan Alimony Lawyer Today
Alimony laws are a complex legal matter. Having a South Jordan family law attorney from Carr | Woodall on your side while handing alimony issues can make a significant impact on how much you will receive or have to pay. Please don’t hesitate to contact our firm if you have questions or concerns about your alimony case.
If you find yourself facing an alimony issue, please call (801) 988-9400 to speak to one of our South Jordan attorneys.