When the courts make rulings regarding spousal support after a marriage ends, they consider a number of different factors. These factors can affect the amount, duration and periodicity of payments. Understanding how the courts make those decisions can be helpful to individuals who are involved in a contentious divorce.
Understandably, a majority of the elements that the courts consider reference the financial each individual's ability to earn wages after the marriage is official ended. For example, a judge might cite the education and job training that a person has accumulated over time. Age, health, previous employment and estimated earning ability may also be factors. In addition, the current financial circumstances of each spouse may play a role. The distribution of marital assets and the each person's separate property could weigh on a judge's decision.
The former couple's relationship can also affect alimony rulings. The length of the marriage might change how long or how large the payouts must be. In addition, if one party was involved in taking care of the home, those contributions could be a factor. Support offered by one party to the other for furthering his or her earning capacity or educational pursuits is also taken into account. Finally, evidence of marital misconduct may influence a judge's decision.
Because of the large number of issues that are considered during the decision-making process, support orders can vary widely from case to case. However, understanding the size of the payouts may be necessary for planning a person's finances after the proceedings have ended. A lawyer could help an individual who is involved in alimony hearings gain a better understanding of how the payouts are calculated.
Source: Divorce Support, "Texas Spousal Support/Maintenance/Alimony Factors", September 15, 2014