Determining How Long You’ll Be Paying Alimony

Author: Miod & Company
Date: December 31, 2021
Category: Family Law
Average Time Reading: 4 minutes

Paying alimony is a part of the divorce process for many couples. If you’re not the breadwinner in the house, you may need some help getting back on your feet.

Determining the amount and duration of alimony payments varies from case to case. So it’s essential to understand what goes into the court’s decision for you or your ex/spouse.

What is Alimony?

Alimony or spousal support is a payment plan in which the court decides to provide financial support for the partner earning a lower income. It gives the dependent party time to find their means of income.

However, alimony does not always mean a long-term decision. Typically, one should expect just enough to maintain an adequate standard of living.

Here are the different types of alimony you should know about:

  • Temporary
  • Permanent / long-term
  • Rehabilitative
  • Reimbursement

Temporary alimony payments are payments given throughout the divorce process. They aren’t the finalized payment plan after the papers are signed, but they give just enough to keep the party on their feet before decisions are made. They may also go toward the costs of hiring a lawyer.

Most commonly, rehabilitative alimony has a set end date of the payments. The judge will decide how long it’ll take you to find your means of income and go from there.

Reimbursement alimony pays back the spouse who invested in the other’s education or business. After a divorce, you’ll be reimbursed for supporting your partner’s future through an equal duration. For example, you’d receive three years of reimbursement for three years of grad school.

Rarely today, permanent or long-term alimony is awarded to the partner for life—or until remarriage or retirement.

How to Calculate Alimony?

The amount of alimony per couple depends on the type awarded by the court. While “alimony calculators” or tables exist to help get a rough idea of what you will pay/receive, it’s not something to rely on.

The court will evaluate your case through the state’s guidelines and assess your qualifications more accurately.

Note that if your divorce occurred after 2018, the alimony is not taxable, tax-deductible, nor included in your gross wages. However, it’s essential to talk to a consultant to get the most accurate quote for your case, especially if the case involves child support in its equation.

Qualifying For Support

It’s common for a partner to stay at home to be there while your children are still young. Besides having no job at all, many factors decide who is qualified for alimony support.

Here’s what else you should know when deciding which spouse will receive alimony:

  • Their ability to rely solely on their income
  • The marital standard of living based on individual couples
  • Duration of marriage
  • Both partners’ contributions to supporting their family
  • The reasoning for divorce
  • Period necessary for education and job-seeking
  • Age, health, and mental condition
  • The higher-earning partner’s ability to pay alimony
  • The financial needs of both partners
  • If it causes the payer to become prematurely eligible for medical assistance 

To ensure a fair payment plan for both parties, the judge will consider all of the factors above with equal thought. However, if both parties are willing to negotiate it themselves, they can arrange a settlement conference that the court will approve of if fair.

How Long Do Payments Last?

The duration of these payments is determined by the type of payment and on the case itself. Payments are often made periodically, such as bi-weekly, monthly, or on an annual or semi-annual basis. 

Note that a withholding order will likely accompany the support order as well, meaning the alimony payments will be deducted right from your paycheck.

However, if periodic payments aren’t right for your situation, other plans can be enacted, such as a lump-sum, or a one-time payment. 

In addition, the duration of your marriage is a huge component in the amount and duration of payments you will receive. For example, if your marriage lasts for less than five years, you shouldn’t expect long-term or high-paying alimony support.

On the other hand, longer marriages, say 5-19 years, allow for a payment plan that will mirror 24-80% of the marriage’s duration. For 20 years and above, you may even receive a permanent alimony plan.


Overall, no one wants to be blindsided when discussing alimony with their partner or ex-partner and the court. The plan can change if the person paying the alimony changes jobs or the person receiving finds a better one. 

Consulting professional advice from a public accountant or advisor will make the discussion a lot easier for both parties inside the courtroom. Here at Miod and Company, we are here to help! Reach out today

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