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Requests for alimony can create disputes during the divorce process. Because it can be a contentious issue, it is useful for divorcing couples to be familiar with how requests for alimony, or spousal support, are handled during the divorce process.

Factors considered when determining alimony

The divorce court will examine a list of factors to determine if a spousal support, or alimony award, will be made including:

  • The incomes of the divorcing spouses;
  • The relative earning capacities of the divorcing spouses;
  • The ages of the divorcing spouses;
  • The physical, mental and emotional conditions of the divorcing spouses;
  • The retirement benefits of each of the divorcing spouses;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
  • If it is appropriate for one the spouses to seek outside employment if they are the primary caretaker of the children;
  • The relative education levels of the divorcing spouses;
  • The relative assets or liabilities of each of the divorcing spouses;
  • The contributions of each of the spouses to the education, training and earning capacity of each of the other;
  • The time and expense that would be required for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education, training or job experience needed to obtain appropriate employment;
  • Any lost income potential of one of the spouses due to their marital responsibilities;
  • Tax consequences for each of the divorcing spouses or a spousal support award; and
  • Any other factor the family law court views as relevant to determining alimony.

This list of factors will be considered when the family law court has been asked to evaluate a spousal support request. Either spouse can request alimony and the family law court will need to determine if it will be awarded, for how much and for how long. To help them navigate this process, it is helpful for divorcing spouses to understand alimony awards.