How Do The Courts Determine Alimony?

There are a few specific items that the court looks at to determine alimony in a divorce. Some of these include the ability to pay, ability to earn, ability to self-support, standard of living during the marriage, and the length of the marriage.

For the ability to pay, the court examines each spouse’s gross income and subtracts the mandatory deductions to produce the net income. The court does not include income taxes, social security, and healthcare expenses so they will not be deducted from the gross salary.

In addition, the court takes into consideration each spouse’s ability to earn. They look at how much each spouse makes in addition to what they can potentially earn. In regards to the ability to self-support, the court examines if a spouse is able to support him or herself. For example, if one spouse was dependent on the other during the marriage than alimony may be rewarded for a rehabilitative period.


While determining alimony the court takes into consideration the standard of living during the marriage and tries to maintain that standard even though the two spouses are no longer together.

Another factor in determining alimony is the length of the marriage. If the spouses were only together for a relatively short time and don’t have any children then the court may not award alimony. On the other hand, if the couple does have children under school age the court may grant alimony to the parent who has physical custody because the court believes that the child is better served with a parent at home.


Before deciding to separate, spouses should try to reconcile their differences, especially if they have children. A divorce is very emotionally taxing and can be expensive. Couples should be certain that their marriage can’t be saved before choosing to file for divorce.

This post was written by David Hurvitz. Follow David on Google+.