September 1, 2014

How long does spousal support or alimony last?

Divorce laws vary state to state but in modern times the idea of lifetime alimony is becoming less frequent, especially when families have both parents working outside of the home. Still, spousal support can be awarded in a divorce when there is a large income disparity between spouses – in addition to child support.

Traditionally, spousal support has been awarded to women but in modern families where the women may be the breadwinners or the men take full custody of children, women are increasingly ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husbands.

This is a dynamic time in spousal support law, and guidelines are constantly changing. In fact, there are sweeping changes going on right now related to spousal support across the country.

An ABC Action News report, “Several states moving toward sweeping alimony reform” found that new spousal support guidelines and formulas are being worked out in several states including Massachusetts, Florida and New Jersey.

In Massachusetts guidelines have already changed. The updates include eliminating lifetime alimony in most cases.

“Alimony now generally ends when the payer reaches retirement age or the payee begins to live with a romantic partner,” according to the article.

In addition length of time spousal support will be paid will be based on how long the marriage was.

“For example, after a 15-year marriage alimony would generally last no longer than 10.5 years,” according to the report.

In Washington State there is a lack of standard formulas for length and amount of spousal support, though attorneys often have their own rules of thumb based on the results they have seen over time.

You can contact us to find out how the laws apply to your situation.