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Why Do I Have To Pay Alimony?

Alimony may be awarded when the court decides, based on predetermined criteria and the individual dynamic of the marriage, that one spouse contributed enough to the marriage to warrant ongoing or temporary support. Some states allow lifetime alimony while others are moving away from it. Regardless of where you live, though, here are some reasons why you may end up paying it to your spouse.

1. Your spouse gave up working for a number of years.

Courts see this as a sacrifice for the marriage because the non-working spouse, in theory, contributed to holding the household together so the working spouse could maximize career potential. Their efforts made your success possible, the logic goes, and so that should be compensated for a length of time after the marriage is over.

2. Your spouse took a career setback for you.

The sacrifice mentioned above is also seen in the non-working spouse’s difficulty reentering the workforce. If she has been out of work for five years, for example, she isn’t as marketable as other candidates and may have to renew her professional credentials in some way. This takes time and it can be difficult to maintain a worthy lifestyle during that time.

3. Your spouse was a stay-at-home parent during the marriage.

Children require a great deal of time and attention. They’re usually the toughest job that a person will ever take on, and the pay isn’t very good. (Though the hugs are.) Childcare is one of the most common reasons that a spouse might leave the job force, and it takes some time to recover professionally once the little ones are self-sustaining. For this reason, a court will usually award alimony.

How is alimony determined?

The short answer is “on a case-by-case basis.” Most courts use a formula so that if the non-working spouse was married 15 years, for example, the alimony might run for 10 or until the non-working spouse finds gainful employment. However long it is, it’s an expense that you may have to plan for, so consider it when working out the financial details prior to filing.

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