How Long Do I Have to Pay Alimony?


Alimony is the payment of money by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse after the separation of the parties. The purpose of alimony is to help the dependent spouse to maintain a similar standard of living that they had when married.

The amount and duration of alimony is dependent on a variety of factors:

  • Marital misconduct
  • Relative earnings and earning capacity
  • Age and physical, mental, and emotional condition
  • Amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses
  • Duration of marriage
  • The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse
  • The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of the minor child
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage
  • The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to get enough education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt service requirements of the spouses, including legal obligations of support
  • Property brought to the marriage by either spouse
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker
  • The relative needs of the spouses
  • The federal, state, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award
  • Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper.

The court generally has broad discretion in the amount and duration of an alimony award. Generally, an award of alimony could be for half the length of the marriage. The court may also decide to award a set amount, also called a lump sum.

There are terminating factors which will cause alimony payments to cease. Alimony will terminate based on the following factors: the date in the Court Order or Separation Agreement which provides for the end of the term of alimony; the death of the dependent spouse; the death of the supporting spouse; the depending spouse remarries; or the depending spouse engages in cohabitation.

If you are seeking legal advice or representation regarding divorce and alimony payments, please contact one of our family law attorneys at Jetton & Meredith.