Alimony FAQs

Q: Will the alimony payments from my former husband cease once I re-marry, even if he and I agreed as part of the marriage settlement that the payment will continue for 7 years?

A: Yes, assuming there is no specific agreement that alimony will continue after you re-marry. An absolute condition to the continued receipt of alimony payment is to remain unmarried for the duration of the alimony payment term. Therefore, your payments will cease because you have remarried, even if the payments are to continue for a few more years.

Q: Can alimony be awarded to a wife only?

A: No. In accordance with the Equal Rights Amendment, a court can award alimony to either party in a divorce proceeding.

Q: Can my wife obtain alimony payments eventhough she is the one that caused the divorce?

A: Possibly. While the amount and duration of alimony is based on a series of factors, even if your wife did cause the divorce, she will not be barred from obtaining alimony.

Q: Can I obtain alimony without requesting a divorce?

A: While it is unusual that alimony will be sought without requesting a divorce, it can be awarded by filing a complaint for alimony only. The person seeking alimony must allege grounds for a limited or absolute divorce, but there is no requirement that a divorce be granted or that the person seeking alimony prove that he or she could obtain a divorce had he or she desired one. The person seeking alimony without a divorce is only entitled to alimony and no monetary award or use and possession of the marital home.

Factors to Determine Alimony Awards

Q: My spouse and I have an equal income. Am I still eligible for alimony?

A: You are likely not eligible for any alimony. You are self-supporting and, since you and your spouse’s income levels are the same, a court will likely not award any alimony since it is unlikely that your standard of living, during and after the divorce, will be unconscionably disproportionate to your spouse’s.

Q: I married my husband right out of high school and never went to college because we began having children soon after marriage. I had 3 children with him, and he supported all of us during our marriage. If I wanted to get a college degree, how long will my alimony payments last?

A: Since you have children, and assuming you will be their caretaker while in college, the court may extend your alimony payments until the completion of your education. The amount of alimony you receive also depends on a noncomprehensive list of factors such as your age, the length of your marriage, and the amount of time you have been out of the workforce in determining an appropriate alimony award.

Q: My income is only 8% of my wife’s. She makes $200,000 while I make about $16,000. What are my chances of receiving a favorable alimony award?

A: Your chances are high because of the disparity in your standards of living after your separation. The court, however, would also look at other non-limiting factors such as your ability to obtain further education, your age, and the duration of your marriage.

Q: My wife currently makes $185,000 while I only make $67,000. We jointly own property worth approximately $917,000. Am I still eligible for permanent alimony?

A: You are likely not eligible although the disparity of incomes is wide enough that a court would find you eligible for alimony. The receipt of your share of the joint property, however, may disqualify you from receiving anything. For instance, if you and your spouse receive an equal share of the real property funds, the court is unlikely to grant you alimony. Additionally, whether you receive alimony also depends on your age, the length of your marriage, and whether the court would consider you self-supporting, among other factors.

Q: I am a 61 year old homemaker and my husband was the breadwinner of the family. We want to get a divorce, but I want to know what amount of alimony payments I will receive from him?

A: Due to your age, it is likely that the court will award you alimony but it will also consider your relative income levels and the duration of your marriage, among other factors. In general, the longer you were married, the more likely you will receive a higher alimony payment.

Q: My husband recently resigned from his company as president claiming that he was falling ill. As a consequence, his salary fell from $50,000 to $10,400. What kind of effect will this have on my alimony award?

A: It will have very little effect assuming your husband was actually faking his sickness to avoid alimony payments. If so, then your husband has voluntarily impoverished himself and will be required to pay alimony based on his potential income.

Modification and Extension of Alimony

Q: After my recent divorce from my husband, the economy tanked and it was difficult for me to find a job in my field at the income level projected. My ex-husband’s income, however, continued to rise. Can I have my incoming alimony payments modified?

A: Yes. This is a change that is significant enough to warrant a modification in alimony payments

Q: My wife was expected to improve from a psychiatric problem she has been suffering, but her condition does not seem to be improving. She has filed for a modification of alimony from definite to indefinite. Is this possible?

A: Yes. The change in prognosis for her recovery is a significant change in circumstance that would require a modification in alimony

Q: I recently divorced my husband and am still unemployed. His income level, however, continues to rise. Can I ask for a modification in alimony?

A: Your request for a modification will likely be unsuccessful without showing a more significant change in circumstances. If the only change is that your husband has acquired more money, this will not alone allow for an increase in alimony payments.

Q: After my divorce from my wife, I have become an alcoholic and cannot seem to keep a job. Can I ask for an alimony modification?

A: Under these facts, a modification will be difficult.

Q: Can I have alimony modifications retroactively applied?

A: In general, yes, it is possible although it is in the discretion of the court and assuming modifications are not barred by prior agreement. An alimony award retroactively applied will then commence on a date preceding the filing of a motion of modification.

Pendente Lite Alimony

Q: My husband used to pay me about $1100 per year regularly prior to our divorce. Will he be required to pay at least that much in alimony?

A: Most likely yes. His ability to pay this amount in the past will be a factor, among others, the court will look at in determining the alimony award. It may require him to continue to pay at least that amount.