How to Calculate Maintenance in a Divorce

Alimony, more commonly referred to as spousal maintenance, is a monthly or weekly payment one spouse that is paid by the former spouse, after divorce. The duration of the maintenance payments can be temporary or for a limited time, such as until the spouse receiving the alimony finishes schooling, or permanent -- that is, it must be paid until the spouse dies or remarries. How much or how long maintenance lasts varies from case to case. Unlike with child support there is no court-created "formula" for determining the amount or duration of alimony.

Find out what type or types of alimony or spousal maintenance your state family law courts permit. There are three types of alimony: permanent maintenance, periodic maintenance and rehabilitative maintenance. Permanent maintenance lasts until one spouse dies or the spouse receiving payments remarries. Periodic maintenance is temporary maintenance, meaning the payments last for a clearly defined, temporary period. For example, the payments may only be required for the first three years following divorce. Lastly, rehabilitative maintenance occurs in situations where the former spouse is required to make alimony payments until his former spouse is financially self sufficient. Rehabilitative maintenance is often used in situations where the spouse receiving alimony needs to finish school before she can enter the working world and financially suport herself.

Look closely at the financial situation during your marriage. When determining whether alimony is appropriate, the family court considers a number of factors including: the personal finances and earning capacity of each party; any impairment to earning capacity as a result of the marriage; the amount of marital assets awarded to each party at divorce; the financial needs of each party; the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the duration of the marriage; the ability of the spouse seeking maintenance to become financially self sufficient; the age and physical condition of each party and any other relavant factors. If you make significantly more than your spouse and it is unlikely your spouse can support herself without your financial contributions, you will likely be required to pay alimony.

Calculate your total income and your spouses total income. Add those two sums together and divide by half to get a figure. Now subtract that figure from your total income to see an estimation of how much alimony you might be paying to your spouse each month.

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About the Author

Lindsay Nixon has been writing since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Vegetarian Times," "Women's Health Magazine" and online for The Huffington Post. She is also a published author, lawyer and certified personal trainer. Nixon has two Bachelors of Arts in classics and communications from the College of Charleston and a Juris Doctor from the New England School of Law.

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