Can I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?
Alimony (also called spousal support or maintenance) is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse and can be awarded when an annulment, divorce or separate maintenance order is granted. To decide whether or not to award alimony and for how long alimony will be paid, a judge will consider:
- the length of your marriage;
- the age and physical/emotional health of each spouse;
- the division of property that was ordered (as part of the annulment, divorce or separate maintenance);
- the education level at the time you were married and at the time you file for divorce;
- your earning capacity (assuming you are the spouse filing for alimony), which the judge will evaluate by looking at your educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of time out of the job market, any childcare responsibilities, and the time and cost that would be necessary for you to get sufficient education or training to find a job;
- whether you can become self-supporting after the divorce and enjoy a comparable standard of living as the one enjoyed during your marriage and how long would it take for you to get there;.
- the tax consequences for you and your spouse;
- any agreement you and your spouse may have made regarding one spouse making a financial contribution or service contribution at one point in the marriage with an expectation that the other spouse would get his/her turn to do so later on in the marriage (for example, if you work to support your husband going to graduate school with an agreement/expectation that then he would work to support you while you go to graduate school – but he files for divorce before you have the chance to go);
- any agreement you and your spouse might have entered before getting married, which commonly deals with money issues in case the marriage ends in divorce or separation (a prenuptial agreement); and
- any other factors that the judge thinks are relevant.1
1 Iowa Code § 598.21A(1)