What Qualifies Someone for Alimony?


Not all former spouses receive alimony once they get a divorce. Alimony is awarded only when one of the people in the former marriage can’t tend to their basic needs without financial help from the spouse who can afford to provide for those needs. 

Spousal support could be short-term, such as when a former spouse needs a few months to return to the job market or finish a degree program. Alimony is also put in place for former spouses who are the primary caretakers of children. In some cases, alimony is permanent. This usually occurs when a former husband or wife likely won’t ever become self-sufficient because of disability or age.

You’ll have to answer some questions with your attorney to determine your eligibility for alimony, as well as the amount of spousal support you can receive.

What Your Lawyer Needs to Know

Your lawyer needs to know how long you and your spouse have been married and whether you are currently working. You should also let your attorney know whether you’ve been working part or full time, and how long you’ve been at your current job. Your attorney may also ask you what job(s) you had before you got married. This may provide some insight into the types of positions you can pursue after your divorce.

Of course, you should also disclose how much money you make and whether you’ve been working for all or part of the marriage. If you’re not currently employed, you’ll have to explain the reason for this to your lawyer. Most of the time, the parent who cares for the children full-time is not working. 

Some spouses may be out of work due to layoffs or recent school completion. Be sure to tell your lawyer if you attended college or gained professional certifications during your marriage, and whether you have a high school education.

Health Questions

Your lawyer needs to know if you have serious health conditions that prevent you from working. Describe your disability or health issue, how long you’ve been affected, and when you’re expected to recover. Official documentation from your physician could be helpful.

Financial and Emotional Support

Tell your attorney if you were unemployed during your marriage for the main purposes of raising your children and supporting your spouse’s career. If you sacrificed your educational and professional goals to assist your spouse, you will likely be awarded alimony.

Maintaining Your Current Standard of Living

Your attorney needs to know if you can maintain the lifestyle you were accustomed to during your marriage to determine if you qualify for alimony. You’ll have to provide information about your post-divorce income and whether you plan on working once your marriage is over. Your lawyer also needs to know if you’ll be working part-time or full-time after your divorce.

Do you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement that was put in place before your marriage that addresses the spousal support you would receive if you divorced? If the answer is yes, create a summary of the agreement in terms of spousal support and give a copy to your lawyer.

You’ll also need to let your lawyer know whether you think your former spouse can financially support you in a way that ensures both of you enjoy the same standard of living that you did while married. This means you’ll have to consider your ex’s current employment situation to determine how much you can expect in alimony payments.

Give your attorney any other pertinent details that support while you should receive spousal support after your divorce. An experienced lawyer will manage every alimony settlement differently. That’s why it’s best for you to explain your situation in detail. 

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