If you’re worried about being ordered to pay alimony, you may be wondering if there’s any chance you can avoid alimony. When do judges order alimony? And when is alimony not awarded? Unfortunately, since alimony is left largely up to the judge’s discretion, it may be difficult to say with any certainty whether or not alimony will be awarded. However, there are some signs that alimony may not be awarded.
There’s No Need
If the lower earning party is able to afford to live without alimony, it’s less likely they will be awarded alimony. However, if the lower earning party isn’t able to afford the same standard of living that the couple enjoyed during the marriage, there’s a higher chance that the lower earning party could be awarded alimony. In most divorces, there’s going to be a decrease in the standard of living for both parties. However, most judges won’t allow one party to have a drastic decrease in standard of living while the other spouse is maintaining a much higher standard of living. Since it’s common for there to be a decrease in standard of living for both parties, it may not be possible for each party to maintain the same standard of living. The courts understand that and they aren’t going to order the higher earning spouse to pay alimony in order to get the lower earning spouse to the same standard of living if the higher earning spouse can’t afford to be at the marital standard of living either.
There’s No Difference in Income
It’s difficult to make an argument for alimony when both parties are making a comparable income. Though the marital standard of living will likely decrease, neither party would be in a significantly better position financially speaking. If both parties need alimony in order to get by, but their incomes are extremely similar, alimony generally willmay not be ordered. When neither party has enough income, each party will likely be tasked with finding the most suitable arrangements for themselves—without the help of alimony.
The Lower Earning Party Has Earning Potential
It’s not uncommon for one party to put their career on hold in order to help raise the family. However, if the stay-at-home parent in the aforementioned example has an education, and a particularly valuable work history, it may be more difficult for that party to argue that they need alimony. This is especially true in cases where the spouse has the same, or similar, earning potential as the higher earning spouse. If the spouse does have education or experience that could help them get a job, or a higher paying job, alimony can still be ordered if their income is lower than their spouse’s. This is referred to as rehabilitative alimony which is designed to bridge the gap until the lower-earning spouse rehabilitates their earning capacity. However, In this case the Judge will the alimony order will likely take the lower earning spouse’s earning potential into consideration when determining how much alimony will be paid—if any is to be paid at all.
The Marriage Wasn’t Long Enough
The longer the marriage is, the more likely it is that alimony will be ordered, provided that there’s a need. In Utah, couples who were married for less than fourtwo years are less likely to have alimony ordered. However, since it’s up to the judge’s discretion, alimony can still be ordered for a period of time equal to the length of the marriage, even if you were not married for a substantial length of time. Utah law states that when there is a short-term marriage and no children were born, the court may consider restoring each party to the condition which existed at the time of the marriage. The length of time alimony is awarded does not normally exceed the length of the marriage. But because alimony is up to the judges discretion, the length of alimony payments may exceed the length of the marriage. In rare cases, alimony can be awarded for life.
The Higher Earning Spouse Can’t Pay
If the higher earning spouse cannot afford to make the alimony payments, it’s less likely that alimony will be awarded. However, this does not mean that the higher earning spouse cannot choose to work for a lesser wage opt to be “house poor” in order to avoid paying alimony. Since income can be imputed, the higher earning spouse cannot become voluntarily unemployed or underemployed with the intention of avoiding alimony. When judges are looking at your income, they’re looking at your earning potential along with how much you’re earning. So, if you’re working at a minimum wage job, but you could be earning six figures, a judge may order alimony based on how much money you could be earning instead of how much you are earning.
When You’re Concerned about Alimony
If you’re concerned about being ordered to pay alimony, you need an attorney who can give you customized advice based on your specific situation. At CoilLaw, our experienced attorneys are dedicated to protecting our clients from unfair alimony judgments. If you’re considering divorce, and you’re worried about alimony, contact CoilLaw today for an initial consultation.