Does the Length of Marriage Affect Utah Alimony?

Utah Alimony is a complicated thing.

It depends on a number of factors, for example: incomes, standard of living during the marriage, need for additional money, ability to pay alimony, ages, disability, length of the marriage etc.

I’m going to focus on one of these factors: length of marriage.

Here are a few ways length of one’s marriage can affect alimony:

  1. The longer the marriage, the greater the likelihood someone will pay alimony.

The longer a marriage, the more used people get to the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. And, the longer the marriage, the higher income the primary breadwinner tends to make.

Both of these things tend to translate in to paying alimony if divorce happens.

  1. In a marriage is short, there’s a good chance no alimony will be paid.

In short marriages (we usually define “short” as less than four years), there is a very good chance no alimony will be paid.

This is true even if children are involved (child support, not alimony, takes care of children).

The reason for this is not enough has changed in a short marriage to warrant alimony. A spouse can almost always simply go back to the way things were before the marriage, and they didn’t need alimony back then, so they don’t need it now. (I’m not saying this logic is right — it’s often wrong — but that’s how the courts look at it.)

  1. The longer the marriage, the longer alimony is paid.

Utah law states that alimony can be paid “up to the length of the marriage.”

This means if a marriage is five years, the maximum alimony could be paid is five years.

Conversely, if a marriage is thirty years, then alimony could be paid for thirty years.

(Couple things: First, this is a general rule, so people don’t always pay alimony for thirty years if they’ve been married thirty years. Second, alimony can last longer than the length of a marriage, but that only happens in extraordinary circumstances such as disability of a spouse.)

  1. The longer the marriage, the more likely alimony will be cut off by retirement.

If you have a thirty-year marriage, as opposed to a five-year marriage, it’s more likely alimony will be reduced or terminated by retirement.

Alimony is based on income, and when income goes away, often, so does alimony. Retirement usually takes its place at that point.

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