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How Much Alimony Can I Expect To Receive

how much alimony

In the state of Utah, during or following a divorce or legal separation, the court will consider whether either spouse is in need of alimony. The decision of the court will take into consideration a few main points and any other factors they find relevant to the specific case at hand.

Factors to be taken into consideration by the court include, but are not limited to:
• The financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse
• The recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income
• The ability of the payor spouse to provide support
• The length of the marriage
• Whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children requiring support
• Whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse
• Whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or enabling the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage
The court may also take into consideration the fault of the parties involved in the divorce, including any marital misconduct or any other actions that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship. The court will look into and consider the standard of living developed during the marriage and the contributions of both parties to that standard. Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time before the end of the alimony payments, the court finds strong evidence to justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time.

In the end, if an agreement cannot be made between the two parties, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge and court deciding the case. In the state of Utah, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.

Is There A Set List Of Statutory Factors For Calculating Alimony?

Utah has a defined list of factors, described in statutory law, that are legally required to be considered by a judge when determining alimony payments. These factors may be directly connected to the alimony calculation formula.

Is Marital Fault Considered In Utah Alimony?

Utah considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that “at-fault” divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, e.t.c. can result in the at-fault party paying more “punitive” alimony.

Is Standard Of Living Considered In Utah Alimony?

Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Utah. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.

Is Custodial Status Considered When Determining Alimony In The State Of Utah?

The judge in the state of Utah considers custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children, and custodial spouses may receive higher alimony payments.

How Exactly Is Alimony Calculated In The State Of Utah?

Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Utah family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.

How Long Alimony Must Be Paid?

The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Utah family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage – one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.

What Happens If Alimony Isn’t Paid?

If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.

Can Alimony Be Waived By A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptial agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.

Can Alimony Be Collected If you’re Not Married?

The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas – especially those with a concept of common-law marriage – “palimony”, or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.

Factors To Consider When Calculating Alimony To Receive Financial Stability Before The Divorce

Financial situations leading up to and following a separation may also be considered. For instance, if a wife leaves her husband shortly after he loses his job, he may not be required to provide alimony that would have befitted their lifestyle while he was still employed. In other words, the financial situation of the spouse seeking alimony is just as important as that of the one writing the check. The earning potential (education or prior work history, for example) of the recipient spouse is also considered, even if that person wasn’t employed during the marriage.

What Caused The Breakup?

The next biggest factor is the cause for the dissolution of the marriage. In most cases, the spouse filing for divorce will simply cite “irreconcilable differences.” In other words, that person simply does not want to be married to their spouse any longer. Neither person is found to be at fault for the divorce. In other instances, one person might be found more responsible. The most frequent reason for divorce in these cases is adultery. In Salt Lake City and Utah as a whole, adultery is taken very seriously. Unlike in other states, adultery is actually a misdemeanor in Utah. If a plaintiff can prove in court that their spouse cheated or if their spouse admits to adultery then a judge might deny the guilty party alimony altogether. Other criminal activities are considered as well. For instance, it would be considered unreasonable for a judge to order a wife to pay her ex-husband alimony if he has a history of gambling.

Child Support

Another factor used when determining alimony eligibility in Utah is whether or not the spouse demanding payment is the primary guardian of the couple’s children. Though one parent may also be required to pay child support, this is not exactly the same. Additional alimony would perhaps cover income that the primary guardian would be unable to earn because of their child-rearing duties.

How Long The Couple Has Been Married For?

On top of everything else, the length of the marriage is also weighed. If a couple files for divorce after eight months, the degree to which their financial lives are tied up is obviously different than a couple who’s been married for thirty years. Additionally, the paying spouse may request the end of alimony responsibilities if their ex-partner remarries or simply moves in with a new partner.

Reach Out To an Experienced Family Law Attorney

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to stand up for your rights and claim what’s yours. Don’t do it alone. An alimony attorney can improve the chances of winning your alimony case. Under Utah law, alimony does not usually last longer than the marriage without special circumstances. That means if you were married for 20 years, alimony payments will not last more than 240 months. If you are awarded temporary alimony, those months usually count towards the total months that you will receive.

If your marriage has been short-term (something not specifically defined in the law, but usually less than 10 years), the judge may consider ordering alimony for a shorter time. This is because the judge believes that you need support for a time to get back on your feet, but not for a long time. However, if you have moved around often with your spouse so they could pursue job opportunities, or you often took lower paying, less permanent employment to be flexible for your spouse’s schedule, those factors can extend the time you receive alimony (but not longer than the length of the marriage).

There are also a few other conditions that could impact your alimony payments. First, if you get remarried, your ex can stop paying alimony. The court assumes that your new spouse has taken on the duty to provide support and will require that person to assume the provider role. Make certain you take that into account when figuring out whether to remarry.
The court can also terminate alimony if you cohabit. That is not an automatic termination, but requires the paying spouse to ask the judge to end the payments. The court will be looking to determine if your relationship is “akin to a marriage.” This does not have bright line rules, but the court looks to factors like: sharing a residence, being involved in an intimate relationship, sharing expenses, making household decisions together, etc. Just having a romantic relationship is not enough to end alimony. The judge has to be convinced that the new love interest is providing for you, at least in part, and that you are living like a married couple.

What Is Alimony Mediation?

When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Utah family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Utah alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.

How Are Alimony Payments Taxed?

On a federal level, all qualifying Utah alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
• The payments are in cash
• The parties live in separate households
• The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)

Myths About Alimony

1. Women are always awarded alimony in a divorce: False
There are cases where women don’t receive alimony in a divorce. Alimony is awarded based on:
• The level of education of the spouse requesting alimony
• Their realistic ability to work
• Their reasonable and necessary needs
• How long they have been out of the workforce while being the primary stay-at-home caregiver for children
• If the spouse has stayed at home supporting a family business.

It also factors in if one spouse supported the other spouse (financially or by providing care for the children) while they obtained their education and the income of the working spouse. Alimony is not likely to be awarded if the marriage didn’t last very long or if the stay-at-home parent has a good education and can realistically work.

2. Only women can receive alimony: False
Technically, either sex could be awarded alimony. It is quite rare for men to receive it because they have a greater capacity to earn more money. But if the man was the stay-at-home caregiver during the marriage and the woman was the breadwinner, alimony could be awarded to the man.

3. Like child support, alimony is calculated using gross income: False
Alimony is calculated from net income instead of gross income. Net income is your gross income minus your taxes paid to the state and federal government. And not all income needs to be included in determining alimony. Only up to 40 hours per work per week should be factored into alimony. Overtime can be factored into alimony only if you regularly worked it during the marriage and you and your spouse relied on that income to meet your needs.

4. When alimony is awarded, it is usually on a permanent basis: False
The length of alimony is different in each case, however Utah law mandates that a spouse may receive alimony for up to the number of years that the marriage lasted. So if a couple was married for 15 years, alimony could be awarded for up to 15 years. This is up to the discretion of the court. If the spouse receiving alimony gets remarried or is cohabiting alimony obligation ends.

5. Alimony isn’t tax-deductible: False
If you are the payee of alimony, it is tax-deductible for you. If you are the receiver of alimony, you must declare the alimony as income.

6. I would rather pay a property settlement rather than alimony: False
The saying “money is valued more now than later” rings true. Giving a spouse more money in a property settlement rather than wanting to pay alimony monthly for a set number of months is not necessarily the best. You should ensure you discuss with a qualified family attorney about what is the best situation for you. Alimony is very subjective and hard to figure out on your own. You need to ensure you consult with a competent family law attorney that can help you come to a fair and reasonable resolution.

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It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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