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Factors considered when determining alimony

Divorced spouses may be aware that the spouse who earns a smaller income may be entitled to alimony from the other spouse. However, it is also important to note that the decision to award alimony lies solely at the discretion of the court and the court’s decision is generally irreversible.

The basic purpose of alimony is to maintain a balance between the economic statuses of both spouses. The decision to award alimony is made on the basis of the needs of one spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay.

However, there are a few other factors that also are considered when deciding on the amount of alimony. The court evaluates the financial conditions of both spouses and considers the lifestyle of that spouse in the past. If the spouses jointly own properties, the court assesses the current value and it is factored into the formula. The current income and the estimated future income of both spouses are considered, as well as the earning capacity of the spouses. In certain cases, the court may have previously awarded an asset to either of the spouses during the divorce and that may also be factored in when determining alimony.

The mental and physical health of the spouses and the length of the marriage are also important factors in determining the alimony amount. If the couple has a child and one parent is already paying child support, the child support is also considered when deciding the alimony amount.

The court also has the power to enforce alimony payments by appointing a trustee who will ensure that the money is paid on time. If the supporting spouse has filed for bankruptcy, that doesn’t excuse that spouse from paying the alimony to the other spouse. However, if either spouse’s economic situation changes, a modification in the alimony order may be requested.

Additionally, the alimony order may be terminated in the event that either spouse dies or if the alimony recipient remarries.

Source:, “Arkansas Circuit Judges’ Benchbook, Vol. II,” September, 2009

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