Unlike child support, alimony does not have a formula. The court has very broad discretion in what it can order. Unlike child support, there is not an automatic right to alimony, which means the court will sign off on a divorce decree in which the parties simply waive alimony. By contrast, a party will not be allowed to waive child support on behalf of their children except in rare circumstances. Whoever wants to receive an order of spousal support will need to request the court for it. An alimony award cannot last longer than the parties’ marriage did. The moving party has the duty to present to the court its reasonable needs along with its own ability to earn. The reasonable needs are generally based on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
The idea behind spousal support is that in a perfect world, both parties would be able to disentangle themselves from each other and continue to enjoy the same type of life they had while together. Sometimes, spousal support is the only way to make that happen.
If the requesting party has a shortfall, the amount of their shortfall is the maximum monthly alimony award. The requesting party must then show information regarding their former spouse’s reasonable expenses per month based on standard of living during the marriage and their ability to earn. There must be a surplus in their monthly budget that is enough to meet the requesting party’s shortfall in order for the Court to grant the requested alimony award.
There are times when there is just not enough money to keep two people at the same level of standard of living that they enjoyed during their marriage. In that case, Utah courts are empowered to “equalize the poverty.” The Court could order an alimony award from one party to the other that would have the result that both parties have to reduce their standard of living by approximately the same amount from what they were used to during the marriage. There are other factors that affect alimony. One is that alimony is, in some ways, falling out of favor, and awards are often shorter now because of a party’s future ability to earn. Some alimony awards are now structured as more of a runway to provide short term financial stability while a party is given an opportunity to re-establish themselves or start a new career.
The other new development in Utah is that the legislature has recently authorized courts to consider fault in determining an alimony award. Fault is not a necessary factor in the divorce itself but if a party can show that the other party’s fault is one of the primary reasons for the end of the marital relationship, the Court can order more or less alimony than it otherwise would have to essentially punish a party for their role in ending in the marriage. So far, all of the alimony fault cases that have gone up on appeal have dealt with infidelity. There are spouses who have caused the breakdown of their marriage due to their infidelity, who have received significantly smaller alimony awards than they would have otherwise received.
For more information on Payment Of Alimony/Spousal Support In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 923-6565 today.