Alimony is ordered by the court as a payment from one former spouse to the other following the end of the marriage. The variables that affect how alimony is determined are numerous, but among the most important is income disparity.
What Is the Purpose of Alimony?
Alimony is designed to help mitigate the negative financial impact on one spouse due to divorce. Usually, the former wife is provided the alimony, although this certainly is not always the case. The reason for this is that even today, when the norm has become a two-income household, women tend to make less. Alimony, then, in essence levels the playing field by helping the receiving party remain in a lifestyle as close to what they knew during the marriage as possible.
How Does Income Disparity Affect How Alimony Is Determined?
A family law attorney will tell you that in many, if not most families, one spouse earns much more than the other. The reasons for this are numerous, but include:
- Difference in education: If one spouse advanced further in education, it is likely that their earning power is significantly greater;
- Intelligence and motivation: The truth of the matter is, some individuals possess more native intelligence than others. Intelligence alone, however, does little for a person if there is no motivation behind it to work hard and do well. A spouse who possesses both to a higher degree than the other is almost certainly going to earn more; and
- Decisions made as a couple: Often decisions are made in marriages that impact the earning power of one of the spouses. If both spouses work, for instance, relocation may be necessary for one to advance. Such as decision is almost certainly going to affect the other’s career. Also, most couples at some point decide to have children. This often means leaving the workforce for a time. Even should a woman return to work once the kids are in school, she has lost precious years of earning power and advancement opportunities.
The court will take into consideration these and other matters in determining who should get alimony and how much should be ordered.