Alimony, or spousal support, is available to either spouse under the appropriate circumstances. The court has statutory authority to order the payment of spousal support for the “suitable support and maintenance” of the party “after considering the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case.” Spousal support is to be based on what is reasonable under the circumstances. The objective is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either.
Where the issue is contested, the court will look at the following factors: age; health; length of the marriage; prior standard of living and whether the requesting party is responsible for support of others; ability to work; ability to pay; need; present situation; past relations and conduct; source and amount of property awarded; general principles of equity.
Temporary support may be awarded while a case is pending and the parties are not living together. An award may be made for support after the judgment is entered. Alimony is granted in an amount and for a length of time that is consistent with the above factors. It can be modifiable (upon a showing of a change of circumstances) or non-modifiable (amount and term are set regardless of any change in circumstances). Where both parties are employed but there is a disparity of income or there is a lack of benefits such as employer-provided health care, alimony is available to balance the situation out and not force the party to consume their property to maintain their lifestyle.
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