Will I Have To Pay Alimony?

alimony divorceBy Andrea Johnson

Cordell & Cordell Divorce Attorney

If you have been the primary financial provider for your family, it is possible that you will have to make alimony payments.

In many states, there is no hard and fast method of calculating alimony payments. And to be quite frank, estimating what a judge may do is often fruitless.

Because the laws of many states allow so much judicial discretion in calculating alimony, the methods and manners for determining whether alimony is appropriate and/or how much alimony should be paid may vary from court to court.

Learn Your State’s

Alimony Laws

Let me provide you with a typical case study:

Husband and Wife met in college. Both graduated from college with bachelor’s degrees in accounting. They married after graduation when Husband was 23 and Wife was 22 years old. Both parties began working in accounting immediately after graduation. 

Wife stopped working at the birth of the parties’ first child and has been a stay at home mom since. Husband is now 35 years old and earns approximately $106,000.  Wife is 34 and stays at home with their two young children.

Question: Will Husband have to pay alimony? How much? For how long will have to pay?

Answer: Yes, Husband will likely have to pay alimony and the answers to the remaining questions may vary depending on a number of factors.

The court will generally consider such factors as:

Marriage length: In cases where the parties have been married for less than five (5) years, it is unlikely that a court will award alimony on a final basis, at least in the state I practice in, Georgia. That does not, however, mean that there is an absolute rule that there is no alimony award for short marriages, nor does it mean that temporary alimony may not be awarded

Financial resources of each party: The court will consider whether Wife has financial resources other than Husband’s income with which to support herself.  For example, if Husband did provide the financial support for the family, but Wife had a $2 million savings account that had not been touched during the course of the marriage, the court may not choose to award alimony to Wife because she has resources off of which she may support herself until she acclimates herself into the workforce.

Time needed to acquire training or education to re-enter the workforce: The court definitely contemplates how long it will take Wife to get herself into the work force. In the scenario mentioned, Wife earned a bachelor’s degree and gained some work experience. However, it has been many since she was last employed.

In today’s economy, it is extremely difficult to find work, even when your most recent experience was just a few months ago. The courts do recognize the difficulty in obtaining work and will contemplate this in alimony awards.

A high unemployment rate makes it undeniable that getting work is difficult. Plus, the high unemployment rate does not include people like Wife, who are voluntarily not working. This number is the percentage of people who are looking for work and cannot find it.  The court will likely allow somewhere between three and seven years of alimony payments in the scenario above.

Each spouse’s earning capacity: In the scenario above, Wife has the ability earn at the rate of a professional. She has a bachelor’s degree and some work experience. She, however, certainly does not have the earning capacity of Husband given that Husband is currently in the work force and has been for many years.

Some judges will equalize the parties’ income (before the consideration of child support) and then allow for a drop down of the support after time periods allowing for Wife to re-establish herself into the workforce.

Contributions to the marriage: The courts definitely consider a stay at home spouse’s work toward supporting the house.

A court can order temporary alimony while the divorce is pending. Most alimony is ordered for a specific length of time. Though conduct can bar permanent alimony, it is possible for the court to enter an award for temporary alimony, even when conduct may otherwise not order it on a permanent basis.

So if you have been the primary provider for your spouse and children and your spouse is not able to support herself, you probably will have to pay some form of spousal support.

Cordell & Cordell:

Divorce Attorneys For Men

 

Georgia divorce lawyer Andrea JohnsonAndrea M. Johnson is a Senior Attorney in the Atlanta, Georgia office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Johnson is licensed to practice law in the state of Georgia. Ms. Johnson was born in the metro-Atlanta area and has spent most of her life in Georgia. She received her Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia in 1998. Ms. Johnson received her Juris Doctor from Mercer University School of Law in 2002.  Since graduating from law school, Ms. Johnson has practiced in the area of family law. Additionally, she has worked in general civil practice, immigration, and estate planning. Ms. Johnson has briefed two cases successfully before the Georgia Court of Appeals, one of which was a modification of custody action.

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41 comments on “Will I Have To Pay Alimony?

    I don’t understand and maybe someone can help me.
    My wife and I have been married 17 years and now she is looking back on her life and hates that she did not get to this or that…
    We both agreed that she would be a stay at home mom until the kids were grown. They are now. She had a great job last year and went back to work for a PVT school where they only worked 3 days a week. She decided that she did not have enough time to what she wanted. so this year she is only working one day a week. I was in the Army and got my degree and a great career. I got my degree while deployed in a warzone. She has stated that she gave everything up for me and the kids. But she could have went to school at anytime she wanted.
    Why (since she is unhappy and did not pursue a career or higher education) am I going to have to pay for the rest of her life? She stated if we divorce she will not remarry nor would I. She did not want my saving for retirement and has cleaned out our IRA as she does not trust the stock market. Our kids go to a PVT school which I will gladly keep them in. But again why is everything geared towards the woman? I have provided her a care free life with financial security and she want for nothing.
    So if she wants a divorce WHY am I the one to be penalized and from what I have been reading, I may end up paying her way (when she is totally capable of working but chooses not to) probably for the rest of her life? I don’t want a divorce and am happy, she is the one who is unhappy. I drive a rusty old pickup and make sure she stays in style. Is this what I get for making sure she has had everything she wants? And just because SHE is unhappy about HER life why should I have to pay for that? I’m lost and don’t know what to do.

    I’ve been married for 5 years. After 3 years of marriage, I found out that husband had been married previously for 5 years and did not tell me. Even afterI found out, he said that I had wrong information and that it was not true. Finally, I contacted the ex wife who verified the truth to me. Since then, husband changed all passwords to all account and I have no access to funds. He has been taking money from his company 401K and putting into a separate account and has been withdrawing large sums of $$ from the bank (more than 10K at times). He has removed me as beneficiary of his life insurance. . and goes on extravagant vacations with his grown daughter and I’m not allowed to go. If I say I want to go on a nice vacation .. he says, “what you do with your money is your own business.”. he makes 200K. I was making around $14K. but I have filed for disability for severe back problems and fibromalygia. I’m still waiting for a hearing and that might take up to 2 years. . . My husband continually lies to me and I feel miserable and isolated. I want out of the marriage, but I have no money except for about $100K in a retirmement account that I had prior to our marriage. I feel trapped. Do you think I can be awarded alimony? Please help!

    Of course a woman who has never worked deserves alimony. It is how the court systems help keep additional deadbeats off of welfare. They start being a SAHM.. then become housewife, then retired housewife.. then eventually just live off the alimony provided by some hard working sucker.

    I’m getting divorced after 10 years of marriage and five years of separation. My wife never worked those 10 years and stayed home to raise our daughter and her kids who are all now adults and still live at home. She says she’s unable to work due to medications she takes for medical issues. However refuses to try to get on disability. I’ve had to work 60 to 100 hours of overtime a month just to cover all of her expensises and even lived in my car for a year so my daughter could have what she needed. Now I’m being told I should have cut her off even if the kids and her ended up homeless. This is bc she is now asking for 110% of my check in spousal support! And my attorney said she may get it bc she’s used to getting it. Oregon has no scale for alimony like they do for child support. So by taking care of my child I’ve actually hurt myself and will be punished for being a good provider vs no punishment if I’d just given her 50% of my check and never worked overtime and told her to figure it out. Then the most she would have ever got is 50%. Now I’m looking at being homeless again while trying to work enough ot to cover court mandated spousal support and live off of non guaranteed overtime and try no to freeze to death this winter plus put 60 extra miles on my vehicle a day just to go to a rest stop to sleep since lodging laws in town prohibit you from sleeping in your vehicle. Terminal cancer right now would be cheaper than this divorce and probably more pleasant.

    I have been married for 8 years and together for 10 years . I was in the military for 7 of the 10 years and my wife has nevered worked and has no high school diploma. Even though she has had many opportunities to get it while I was in the miltary. Would I have to pay alimony. What would be the chances of getting custody of my 3 children. I’m in school getting a associates in avation maintance. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    My wife of 23 yrs is an RN and makes more money than I do, she has her masters in nursing and is holding off on taking her nurse practitioners exam which would eventually double her salary in the long run, because she would rather sue me for alimony first. Can she do this? Will the court make me pay her alimony? Then allow her to benefit from receiving the alimony and then doubling her salary after the fact? I make $34k and she makes $65k and after she becomes a nurse practitioner, her salary will go up to over $100k.

    Hi
    I have a friend he is married for 25 years but his wife never work … There have 2 kids there in the twenties …… There not not together for 5 years ….. does he still have to pay her rent???

    I am grateful for the clarifications on alimony in this article. It makes so much sense to me that a woman who is a stay at home mom would need to have some child support. I didn’t know however that alimony is awarded based on marriage length in some states!

    Hi, I live in georgia and I’ve been divorced for about 8 months now. I pay 2 child supports and alimony. The divorce is finalized. I recently found out by facebook that my ex-wife was already in a relationship with somene else before the divorce was done and I was still living in the same house. Can I still take her to court to take of the alimony since I found out she was cheating on me.

    I make 26000 a year and my wife collect SSI 900 a month can she still get me for alimony or spousal support

    Someone I know has been married for 8 years seperated into different states with absolutely no contact for 4 of those 8 years the wife has since been with many men and left the husband with all the tax debt she alone ran up on credit cards in his name.
    She took everything in the house when she left 4 years ago including a car with both their names on it she does not work and refused to during the marriage I have been helping this friend pay off the IRS debts that were soley hers . However in California no fault marriage resolve is applicable according to everything I have read unfortunately I am not a lawyer and have not all the facts I need to help my friend my friend recently got a promotion in his job to which he has spent the last 4 years slaving away to do soo he was in school at the time of marriage but all was paid for by his mother and wired from another country in his name to the school to prove she never aided I. His education . If his ex seeks alimony would it be safe to say even with a default or summary dissolution can’t he find a way to avoid paying it where she is provided and cared for by her mother who was the main cause of divorce along with her daughters many counts of infidelity and absolute lack and carelessness to the marriage they would have divorced soon except the ex wife would not and when it hits the 8 year mark it would seem her plan would be to resolve every and any chance to take advantage of the system and collect alimony to which I don’t believe she is rightfully entitled to a because he has settled and is still in the process f settling her debts to which I can attest to the point that she only wants to divorce after all this time according to her for the sake of selling a car which is in both their names that he paid for to me it would seem she is and has been gold hunting this entire time for the purpose of greed and selfishness other than relief .. She refuses to work but is fully capable my friend wants to be married and start a family as he and the wife have no children to whic she concealed from him that she is unable to bear children this woman’s eye has been money deception and greed should this new family that wants to start have to support someone of who’s debt he is trying to pay off and in the future this alimony or proposal of it could effect an unborn child’s welfare for school and everything else what can be done in the state of California to delude any possibility of alimony for this ex wife her mother fully supports her financially is there any way that the law can be looked at in a manor to where he doesn’t pay her alimony maybe considering the debts he has payed off without a penny of help from her is it possible to look at it this way and is the legality of what I’ve said factual or are there no ways to an end in which this can constitute those payments and debts as alimony that would have been owed since the no fault law in California states that the spouse making more money has to pay the other into cognitive terms that they may get back into a work pace and to be grounded in their start however in this case I would ask that is it legally possibly to consider consolidated debts as payment and where she has refused to work for 8 years but is fully and financially capable that she shares an account with her mother and is financially set in terms of money although her monthly income is zero is it safe to say that because she receives help from her mother to whom she lives with along with the refusal of work factor for over 8 years can my friend and his gf really be accountable for him to pay alimony for the next 4 years affecting the family they want to start at the means and very least by someone who has not been wronged in anyway and whose sole debts have been consolidated by her spouse who she cheated unremorsely and left each time to find a bigger fish and now that only her car and the money it would provide need selling now is when she wants a divorce after so much time by law and no fault alimony is supposed to be paid considering all this what Are my friends options

    I have been married 20 yrs and my husband stopped all making love to me 13 yrs ago. We are both 62 yrs old and in great health. He has been cheating on me for years and I can’t divorce hI’m because I can’t afford to take care of myself by myself. .we both work but he makes 3 times what Iake. Can I get alimony?

    if i am paying alimony, and ex spouse does not make attempt to work full time and now moving to mexico, do i still pay? even if she is living in a different state

    I was in a marriage for 5 years . Together for 7 years. Before marrying she cheated on me. I married in hopes of making are relationship better. It only became worse. We are now divorcing and because of my health I’m unable to support myself or daughter from a previous relationship, because of health issues. My wife makes $130,000 a year. From what I have read, a 5 year marriage may not be long enough even for alimony support. Just to allow me to get back on my feet. I would appreciate feed back anyone with experience with this.
    Thanks, Jay

    I have been married for lirtle over 6yrs. My husband didnt want me to work. I have 2 children live at home for previous married he dies in 2007.We liive in state of missouri. With my new husband. I left family and friends to move here. Want to file for divorce bit dont know my oppsions. Will he help me move back home. Or alimony? Can i vet some of his 401k plan or benefits? Thank you for you help gos bless

    My dad would like to know how he can get spousal maintenance removed completely from his check. My mom already signed papers at the child support office to stop it because she is receiving Disability income each month. But my dad is still having 118 from each check each week. Is there something further my mom can do to cease all payments from my dads check. Phoenix Az

    If somebody could please inform me that would be great, thank you. What if the wife lies to the husband, and even to thE child for him to, ” not tell daddy she’s with her friend. ” The wife is clearly seeing someone else. The husband is a hardworker who loves his kids and wants to keep the family together, but the wife is seeing someone else. Out of nowhere while the husband is at work she moves all her stuff and leaves the house of matrimony to live with her mom. The husband is sad, but somehow they both take turns taking.care of the kids. There r 2 childs. The mother is more concerned and worried about going out with her friends. I am the brother of the husband and she had dropped of the both the kids one weekend cause she was ” going.out for the week” knowing the youngest child whom is 2 was really sick, me and my brother had to go to the doctors and grab him medicine. The kids like being.with their father more. They even say it. She was the one that left when he wanted to keep the family together. And now she wants him to pay child support and alimony. But she has her own job, could she actually win? Is the woman more favored? She was the one who left, lied, cheated, left the kids with my brother when they were super sick and now she wants alimony and custody?? Keep in mind, knowing her since I was little, before they were married she was a mean lady, I don’t want to use the other word, but yeah she is.

    The courts usually do a pretty good job in determining what alimony is owed. I would say that it does go both ways. My husband and I divorced a few years a go and my position with my business makes more money than he does so I was actually required to pay him alimony. A twist that isn’t typical but I know what he makes and we have joint custody so in my opinion the money is going to help support my kids when they are with him, and for that I have no problem paying.

    Hi. My partner has been separated for 4 years and divorced 1 year. He was ordered to pay alimony of £100 per week, even though he is on a poor salary. He has been paying this for about 3 years. Both his children have left home as they are 22 and 25. His ex has many cash in hand jobs, living in the home mortgage free. Cam my partner take his ex back to court to stop these payments as it is unfair as he struggles financially and also unfair that she has no intention of returning to work full time due to having part time cash in hand jobs and his money. Has anyone got any ideas on what he can do

    cont’d from above..
    Mike- we live in Arkansas. And what happened was she cried that she wanted to go overseas to see her family, so I gave her $3200, she came back complaining about her citizenhip needed to get paid for $900, I told her I didn’t have the money till after the new year, she got mad and just left without me knowing, until someone from church told me they helped her move out. I wonder what lies she told them about me, oh well. the kids didn’t like her anyway and I was tired of her telling me how my kids are stupid idiots…Even though there “A” students in school..hmmm. really, “idiots” whatever, me and them know dif’t. anyway, used? I feel it!! my 1st wife left after 10 years, and then abandoned us, filed for divorce and said “I don’t want the kids! ” and left. shock? Id say. there is a video of this, my lawyer was shocked so was the judge.

    Alimony?
    I have 2 kids, 11 and 14 from a prev marriage where the 1st wife has moved overseas and we never hear from her. My 2nd wife now has moved out after 3 years and wants to sue me for Alimony. She works under the table cleaning homes. She wanted me to sign for her citizenship and I didn’t have the money and so she got mad and moved out. So I know where her heart really was, but do I still pay alimony even though im supporting my 2 kids and working 2 jobs?

    living in truck
    Judge granted my ex temporary spousal support of 1000 even though i only take home 3000 a month, I lost my apartment because i could not afford it and now living in my truck because i cant afford another apartment. What options do i have? She had a job but quit while we were going through the divorce

    Stay at home dad
    I have been a stay at home father for 4 years and also have a health problem. Can I get alimony ? I live in Tennessee plus my wife makes 85k a year and i make 0 income. Will I have to pay child support?

    We have similar situations. Except for my wife makes almost twice as much. And I have a 11 y.o daughter from a previous relationship. Her mother left before she was 1 y.o. So I have cared for her and raised her on my own. This would not be a problem to continue taking care of her. Aside from my deteriorating health. I would greatly appreciate it. If would let me know what type of responses you receive from your post.
    Thanks, Jay
    jay1seitz357@gmail.com

    Alimony and child support in GA
    My husband and I have been married for 3 years now, been together a total of nearly 7 years. We have a 2 & 1/2 year old daughter. I’m a stay at home mom and home maker. My husband works out of state 3 months at a time and only home for a week or two then back out of town. He makes roughly $5,000 a month. He says he just doesn’t want to be married anymore, I’m assuming he wants to just be free to do whatever he wants to do. I’m trying very hard to make our marriage work, but I’m not sure it will work out if he has his mind set. My question is how much in child support will he owe me per month? Also we do t own a home we rent, and I really don’t have anywhere to go, no job, it will take me some time to find work and when I do I’ll have to do childcare. Will he have to pay me alimony and about how much?

    Alimony in iowa
    i have been married for 17 years and im trying to go through a divorce. my husband is a RN and i’m a stay at home mom and have had off and on jobs for the whole time we were married. i stayed at home with the kids til my youngest went to school full time as in going from half a day pre k to a full day Kindergarden. Will my husband have to pay me alimony? and if so, for how long?

    Alimony in Kansas
    My wife worked for 20 years with the government and was terminated due to unprofessional conduct. She has become a drug addict and alcoholic and would stop going to work and finally even the government had enough and fired her. I earned about 15-20K more than she did the last 5 years and now she earns nothing and was denied unemployment because of all the reasons she was fired. She has been in and out of rehab and now I am divorcing her. I am paying the house payment and all the bills now by myself and she does nothing to contribute and has not moved out but has not lived here for 2 months. We have a 14yo daughter together that I pay for all cost of school, sports, etc. Will I have to pay Alimony? I am trying to get full custody and asking for Child Support during the course of the divorce. Everything is well documented and I have all the paperwork about her job.

    Thanks,

    J

    Alimony in Nevada
    I been married for 5 years during this time my wife have moved out several times we are getting divorce I don’t have a lawyer she does she worked all while we was married and she just quit her job a few weeks ago and now her lawyer is asking for the last pass 5 years of all my income bank pension etc. will I have to pay her alimony.

    I’m getting divorced after 16 years of marriage. My wife moved out and left my step daughter with me while at the same time telling her lawyer I am abusive to her daughter. I earn over 100K and she has worked the entire marriage but most of her money is non taxable so it appears on paper that she earns considerably less than what she actually earns. She also recently completed her degree and is a licensed nurse but doesn’t currently work as a nurse. She continually threatens alimony because that’s what her lawyer is telling her. Will I have to pay alimony?

    Alimony
    my husband has repeatedly told me if i divorce him, then he will get alimony because i make more money the he does. However he does work 40 hrs a wk, makes $17.00 an hr and only shows on his taxes 11,000-13,000 a yr. However, i have a salaried job and makes $29,000 a year. We have no bills but the usual. We don’t have children together our children are grown and we have been married only 8 yrs. He does on a house that was put in his name only 3 yrs ago paid for.Which the taxes and insurance are paid out of family income. Which he states his attorney (criminal attorney)has told him that I would have to pay him alimony and I am not entitled to anything of his. Is this true?

    alimony
    I have been married for 7 months, and she is pregnant. She was fired from her job 2 months after we got married, and didn’t go back to work. She has kicked me out of the house several times so for the 7 months we have been married we only lived together for maybe 5 at the most. Will I still have to pay her alimony

    alimony amounts
    Im from NC. Me and my wife have been married for 38 years. Kids are grown and out of the house. She still works, but I am retired. I still bring home more money than her. She is getting the farm that we live on because she inherited it from her family. Will I be required to pay alimony?

    Alimony amounts
    My spouse has a bachelors as a paralegal and I have an associates. She has already received the education needed to obtain an excellent job, however she currently works as a county court clerk making less than $2000 a month. I on the other hand have an associates degree and work as a service writer making approximately double her salary. In this scenario to what length should I be expected to pay alimony when she has already received the degree just not actively sought employment in her field? Her current request which, includes child support brings my income down to $2300 per month while raising her income to $4075. Is this fair and equitable given the circumstances? The child support has been calculated to be $884 which I am certainly wiling to pay. I want to know what additional moneys I should expect to pay in alimony and still be able to support myself and future family.

    alimony
    I have been married for 9 years and 4 months and im getting a divorce. I have no kids, we don’t have a mortgage, I make $45,000 and my wife makes $30,000. How much would I owe her for alimony and how long would I have to pay?

    Alimony
    My wife and I have been married for 2 years. She is not a permanent resident in the US. I have been the sole provider for the entire marriage. Although not this is not the reason for the divorce, she has willfully refused to find employment, even after being legally approved and issued a work permit. Citing irreconcilable differences, we opted for divorce. What are my chances of having to pay alimony?
    southernkustomskw@yahoo.com

    Alimony
    My wife and i Have been married 23 years but have lived apart for the last four( Her in Ringgold Ga. and I in Augusta Ga.) Citing irreconcilable differences we opted for divorce in Jan. Two weeks ago I received in my mailbox a proposal for divorce. I agree with most of the terms inluding child support amount for our 16 y.o., but dispute the alimony request. I earn 58 k and she earns 36 and is fully employed. She has a college degree, I do not. She also has a boyfriend that she travels to Nashville to stay with every other week. What are my chances and options. Thank you, Jay Roger Cole wizard200jrc@gmail.com

    I have been married for 11 years. My husband went to prison for 2 of those years. When he got out, he could not find a job. Our daughter age 12 had a heart attack and was hospitalized and has a defribrillator implanted in her chest. I have to pay for medication, and office visit co pays until she needs her heart transplant. I have a 3 year old child also with him. I pay child care. I pay for everything including rent, food, clothes for the kids, utilities, insurance payments etc. Last year I cleared a little over $39,000. My husband is a truck driver and was making good money when we got married. He has not worked in 7 years except for last year where he supposedly made $8000.00 that I did not know about. If we divorce, will I have to pay alimony?

    How Remarriage Affects Alimony and Child Support
    Income from a new spouse is not considered because a new spouse does not have a legal duty to support the child, but it may be considered indirectly, according to Cordell & Cordell attorney Jennifer Paine.

    For example, a new spouse may assume payments for the ex’s debts, thereby freeing the ex’s previously devoted resources for child support.

    Alimony and remarriage
    If I got remarried would my ex be able to increase my alimony based on what my husband contributes to our household combined income?

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