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Does marital duration impact how long alimony will be paid?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2022 | Spousal Support

In any divorce, alimony (also referred to as spousal support or maintenance) can be a topic of dispute. This is especially true in high-asset marriages where one party was the primary financial provider. In these cases, two big concerns are how long the support will last and how much it will be. When thinking about how long the marriage was and what that means with the duration of alimony, it is useful to have aggressive help to deal with the case.

Long-term alimony

Every case is different, but certain basics generally result in there being long-term alimony. If the couple was married for an extended period, then the alimony can reflect that and be paid for longer than it would otherwise. Financially if one party earns a significant amount more than the other – common in high-asset cases – then there can be long-term payments.

Unless the couple agrees on their own, the judge will have three options when ordering support. There can be a specific amount one will pay to the other; the court could make a “reserve” order where there is no amount listed immediately, but one can be ordered later; or it can end the ability to make an award.

The duration of the marriage is a major factor in the duration of the alimony payments. If the couple was married for fewer than 10 years, then the duration is generally half the length of the marriage If it was more than 10 years, the judge will not start with any baseline and will assess the case on its evidence and merits.

In high-asset cases, the following will come to the forefront: earning capability; marital standard of living; property and debt from the marriage; contribution to the other side’s earning potential; how much is needed and how much the paying spouse can afford to pay. In cases where the prospective receiving party contributed to the higher-earning spouse’s affluence and success by being a homemaker, helping pay for school or taking part in building a business, they will be entitled to compensation for that via support.

Legal help for high-asset cases

In a high-asset divorce with substantial assets, the receiving spouse is often limited in what they can earn and it is extremely unlikely they will ever earn enough to maintain their lifestyle from the marriage. The court will consider how long it might take for the receiving spouse to self-support and how much they will require until that happens. To achieve a fair result, it is important to be protected and professional advice can help.