Alimony After Divorce
Next to child custody, alimony is the most hotly contested issue within a divorce. Child support is paid for the benefit of the children, while divorce alimony is paid for the benefit of the ex-spouse (no wonder it is highly contested, who wants to give their ex-spouse money?).
Calculating child support in Utah is easy, both parties verify their incomes to the court through pay stubs and tax returns and then those verified numbers are plugged into a calculator. The calculator tells the obligated party exactly how much he/she has to pay in child support each month. Alimony payments, on the other hand, are not that clear cut! Alimony in Utah is very subjective, there is not a calculator or other mathematical equation the court uses to determine the amount that will be paid or if it will be paid at all.
In Utah, the judge has a list of factors that he may consider when deciding whether one party should be awarded alimony. If awarded, the judge may consider the same factors to determine the monthly amount of alimony to be paid as well as the duration it will be paid. Here are the three main factors the court considers when deciding on whether to award alimony; (1) the ability of the wife to produce income, (2) the ability of the husband to produce income, (3) the finance needs of both parties. In a nutshell, the court must determine how much money both parties are capable of producing on their own and whether that amount of money is enough to cover their basic financial needs. If one party is unable to cover his/her financial needs while the other party has enough to cover his/her own needs and then some, the party with the “surplus” of money may be ordered to help the other party with his/her “deficiency” of income. For example; if the wife in a divorce case earns $5,000 per month and has $4,000 of necessary monthly expenses, the court may find that she has a $1,000 per month surplus. If the husband in the same case earns $3,000 per month and has $3,500 per month in necessary expenses, the court may find that he has a $500 per month deficiency. In this case, the wife may be ordered to pay the husband $500 per month so that both of them are able to pay their necessary expenses each month.
The next question in this scenario is; “for how long would alimony be ordered?” Good question! The court would have to decide how many years alimony payments need to be paid. The court can order any amount of time, however, the court cannot, under normal circumstances, order alimony to be paid for longer than the duration of the marriage. This means that if the parties were married for 10 years, the most the wife would have to pay in this scenario would be for 10 years. However, the court could order less than 10 years. Keep in mind that there are several other factors that the court would consider in addition to the parties’ abilities to earn income and their financial needs.
One thing is for sure when dealing with alimony after divorce; no one wants to pay their ex-spouse money!!!