How to Determine Alimony Terms

The alimony process in Utah is complicated and difficult to navigate. In our experience, alimony is one of the most unpredictable aspects of a family case. Though courts have some rules regarding alimony awards, the actual amount and duration is left almost entirely to the court's discretion.

Because of this, it is especially important to have an attorney if you are making or defending an alimony claim. You need someone who knows how to argue these issues, or you are apt to be at a severe disadvantage. At Nelson Jones, PLLC, we can walk you through the arguments you may be able to claim against the other party, and help you secure alimony payments you deem fair.

According to Utah law, alimony cannot be awarded for a period longer than the number of years the parties were married. Practically speaking, most alimony awards do not extend the length of the marriage. Long-term alimony is typically reserved for cases where the recipient spouse is older, disabled, has little work experience or skills, or has special obligations regarding the parties' dependent children.

Though fairly rare these days, long-term "traditional" alimony is still a possibility in Utah. In our experience most alimony awards fall into the "rehabilitative" category where alimony is awarded for a set number of months or years to enable the recipient spouse time to enter (or reenter) the work force.

How Much Alimony Are You Entitled To?

The amount of alimony or spousal support depends, in part, on certain factors. The first three factors are of primary importance, though each of the following factors is generally considered by the trial court:

  • The financial condition and needs of the party that would receive alimony
  • The recipient spouse's earning capacity or ability to produce income
  • The ability of the paying spouse to provide support
  • The length of the marriage
  • Whether the recipient spouse has custody of minor children who need support
  • Whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the other spouse
  • The fault of each party in the divorce, such as engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party's spouse, causing or attempting physical harm on the other party or minor children, or substantially undermining the financial stability or the other party or minor children (this last factor is very limited and you should speak with an attorney about how it factors into an alimony award).

Even if you qualify for alimony, there is much uncertainty as to how much you receive. Because of this, we recommend that anyone who has questions about alimony seek the advice of a competent attorney. Alimony has lasting legal and financial impacts that we believe are best addressed by skilled counsel.

Financial Issues Pertaining to Alimony

When alimony is an issue, it is extremely important for parties to thoughtfully, accurately and intelligently prepare financial disclosures and, if necessary, perform financial discovery. Failure to gather, organize, and analyze both parties' finances can have significant adverse impacts on a party's ability to secure an appropriate alimony award.

We recommend that you take steps to ensure that their attorney is well-versed in preparing, organizing and understanding all relevant financial instruments, including accountings and balance sheets. We have found that our experience and approach to financial matters have often made the difference when it comes to alimony and property settlements favorable to our clients. Alimony also has important tax and retirement consequences that should be discussed with competent legal counsel. Options are available to structure alimony and property settlements to better serve the interests of both payer, recipient or both.

Schedule a free consultation with our lawyers in Sandy today by calling 801-981-8779 or sending us an email.