Amount of Spousal Support Based on Need
Spousal support or alimony is one of the most hotly contested items in divorce cases. Although some couple are able to amicably reach an agreement many cannot and those who cannot agree force judges to decide the issue for them.
How does a judge decide alimony? Unlike child support in Utah, there is no online calculator that you can use to determine how much alimony should be paid, and one size does not fit all.
Olson v. Olson
Fortunately Utah divorce case law gives us much guidance on the issue of alimony. In one recent case the Utah Court of Appeals reaffirmed the principle that alimony should be based on a showing of need.
In Olson v. Olson the wife in a divorce action appealed a district court’s finding that she was entitled to $1,000 per month for 18 years. The parties had been married for 18 years at the time of divorce and the wife was living in the marital home debt free. The alimony would start after wife sold the marital home and would last for 18 years. The court considered that wife’s needs would increase after she was no longer living rent free. Nonetheless, wife felt she was entitled to $2,000/month.
On appeal the court found that the district court’s ruling was correct because it made its decision based on the wife’s needs. Wife argued that since her husband made much more money than she and since a $2,000 award would better equalize their incomes she was entitled to that increased award. The Court of Appeals did not agree: “Regardless of the payor spouse’s ability to pay more, the recipient spouse’s demonstrated need must constitute the maximum permissible alimony award.”
Other Factors Considered
In addition to need a court will consider the parties’ standard of living, the spouse’s earning capacity, and the fault of either party such as committing adultery. Needless to say, need is the most easily calculable and these other factors can make an alimony amount more difficult to determine.
Call Us for Excellent Divorce Representation
Divorce is a difficult time and you shouldn’t go it alone. If you believe you are entitled to spousal support get an experienced Utah divorce attorney on your side to help ensure you are getting an amount that is fair and reasonable. Likewise, if your spouse is trying to obtain alimony from you make sure you get the protection you need to make sure you pay only that to which your spouse is entitled.
Call us anytime at 801.475.0991.