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When does a divorcing spouse qualify for alimony?

On Behalf of | Jul 11, 2023 | Alimony

In some cases, a divorcing spouse will request alimony from their ex. Also known as spousal maintenance, alimony usually means a regular series of payments from one spouse to the other to help the latter maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony can begin while the divorce proceeding is in progress as well as after the divorce order is finalized.

Spouses can negotiate between themselves on spousal maintenance, but if they cannot agree, the judge will decide if the spouse requesting alimony will receive it, how much they will get and how long it will last. Kentucky law states that the judge can award alimony only if the recipient 1) lacks the resources to support themselves, even with their portion of the marital property, and 2) cannot currently work or has custody of a child with a condition that makes it “appropriate” not to require the parent to seek work outside the home.

These most often apply to someone getting out of a long-term marriage who had little or no work experience during that time. Such a person would struggle to find a job that meets their financial needs due to limited or outdated job skills, education and experience. They might need time to get the education or training necessary to become self-sufficient. Or that might never happen due to the ex’s age and health.

Guidelines for awarding maintenance

The law gives the judge leeway to award maintenance “in such amounts and for such periods of time as the court deems just,” but requires the judge to consider these factors:

  • The requesting spouse’s financial resources, including child support, and ability to provide for themselves.
  • How long it would take for the spouse to acquire the education or training needed to find a suitable job.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • The requesting spouse’s age and physical and mental health.
  • The other spouse’s ability to pay alimony while also affording their own needs.

Based on these considerations and each party’s particular circumstances, the judge will decide whether to award alimony, its duration and how much the recipient will get. Typically, alimony is set for a specific time limit, but Kentucky law does allow permanent maintenance for certain cases. Later, if circumstances change, either party can go back to court to ask for changes.

How do I get to a fair resolution?

The financial stakes can be high in divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can help protect your property interests and reach a reasonable settlement or court verdict.