Question: My husband and I contribute to household bills according to our income. In other words, since his income represents 75% of our total household income and mine represents 25%, he pays 75% of the bills and I pay 25%. Since we've never paid in 50-50 to our lifestyle, does that ruin my chances to get "traditional" alimony if we were to divorce? (We have no kids.)
Alimony is determined by several legal statutes:
In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall hear the witnesses, if any, of each party, and shall consider the following factors:
1. The length of the marriage,
2. The causes for the dissolution of the marriage,
3. The age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties,
4. The property division which the court might make, and
5. In the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent's securing employment.
There is no absolute right to alimony. The court isn't required to give equal weight to each of the specified items it considers in determining an award.
Slowly, the courts have begun to see they don't need to award alimony permanently, like it always was in the past. Today, alimony can still be awarded permanently, but it also serves to "get people back on their feet" after a divorce — not just women, but men as well. Although alimony is usually reserved for longer marriages (i.e. more than 10 years), and/or when one spouse earns substantially more than the other, this is not always the case. Alimony is basically dependent upon the paying spouse's ability to pay and the receiving spouse's need for support.
Most courts typically don't consider marital fault when awarding alimony, although each state is different. The court sometimes might list economic fault, like squandering marital assets on gambling or an affair, as a factor when determining alimony.
Ultimately, alimony is determined on a case-by-case basis. Check your state's laws (known in the legal world as statutes) to see what they have to say about it. If you are in disagreement with your spouse about whether or how much alimony will be paid, you should speak with a mediator and/or family law attorney to work those issues out. A mediator can use his or her training in conflict resolution to help you reach a settlement. An attorney can advise you how cases are typically decided in your area, and if you are likely to be awarded alimony.Click the following to return to the directory for Your Finances and Divorce.