Alimony is one of the most discussed topics when people come in for their Roadmap and Recovery Sessions (i.e., new client consultations). And with good reason: it’s really important.
Alimony will affect how you and your soon-to-be ex will live for the next who-knows-how-many years.
It can be a lifeline for a spouse that has stayed at home and raised children. Conversely, it can be a serious burden to a spouse already paying child support.
Alimony is really a function of two things: (1) time and (2) need.
It’s about (1) that I want to spend a minute.
Time in the Marriage
Time in the marriage is the first consideration when discussion alimony. The reason for this is simple: if you haven’t been married long enough to warrant alimony, then figuring out need for alimony and ability to pay won’t matter.
My rules of thumb regarding how long you have to be married to get alimony in Utah is this:
- If your marriage is less than four years, it will be very difficult to obtain alimony.
- If your marriage is four or five years, it’s a toss-up.
- If your marriage is more than five years, it’s likely to end up with an alimony award.
The reason it’s difficult to obtain alimony if you’ve been married fewer than four years is because people (usually) can easily go back to work and live a normal single life on an average wage. The length of the marriage is so short that neither spouse has become dependent on a marital lifestyle.
Not Hard-And-Fast Rules
Now, these are not hard-and-fast rules.
For example, if you’re married a year, become permanently disabled in an auto accident, and your spouse files for divorce that same year, your chances of getting alimony are probably pretty good.
Conversely, if you have been married for twenty years, make $200,000 per year, and have no need of alimony from your spouse to maintain your lifestyle, you don’t have a very good argument for alimony.
What I’m getting at is alimony is very fact dependent and fluid. You really need to sit down with an attorney and go over your particular situation to see where you stand regarding alimony.
P.S.: For a more complete discussion about how Utah courts calculate alimony, click here.