How Long Do You Have To Pay Alimony? What Can Terminate Alimony?

How long do you have to pay for alimony

When does alimony terminate? How long do you have to pay alimony? Some of the most often asked questions in divorce are about when alimony ends. When alimony is judged to be necessary in a given case, the court must decide how long the payments will continue. Alimony that lasts for life is quite rare. Alimony is usually paid monthly for a fixed number of years. The length of the marriage will be considered by the court when deciding the length of alimony. A 30-year marriage, for example, is likely to result in alimony payments for several years. Similarly, a 7-year marriage is likely to result in a brief alimony period, if any at all. The length of alimony may be agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the court if they cannot agree.

Who is Eligible to Seek Alimony?

During a divorce, either you or your spouse, or both of you, might request alimony. If alimony was not mentioned in the initial divorce ruling, you can bring a complaint about alimony for the first time at any time following your divorce.

After a divorce, alimony can be altered through a process known as a modification.

How Long Will You Have to Pay Alimony?

Alimony is often paid monthly, although it can also be paid in a flat payment. The length of time you must pay is determined by how the court sets up the alimony. It can be discussed between you and your ex-spouse, or it can be determined by the court. However, alimony is often paid until the receiving spouse remarries or one of the spouses dies.

A judge will also examine how long you were married when determining how long you will have to pay alimony.

Alimony is normally required to be paid for the length of your marriage. Each state has its own set of standards, so check with a family law expert to see what the rules are in your state.

For example, if you were only married for a brief time, alimony will be granted for a limited time — if at all. If you are married for more than ten years in some states, you will be required to pay alimony permanently unless the court modifies the alimony. This is possible for the following reasons:

  • The recipient’s requirements alter.
  • The ability of the ex-spouse to pay alimony
  • The ages of both spouses
  • Each spouse’s health factors
  • Career prospects that one spouse lost due to the marriage

Temporary Marriage

A divorce court will also consider the length of a marriage when assessing spousal support.

Alimony is determined differently in each case, and each state has its own set of rules. However, in short-term marriages, alimony is frequently issued for approximately half the length of the marriage. So, if you were married for three years, the alimony award would most likely be payable for roughly one and a half years.

Long-Term Marriage

If you were married for 10-20 years, you will normally be required to pay alimony for 60 to 70% of the length of your marriage. So, if you were married for 20 years, your alimony will most likely last 12 to 14 years. It can, however, vary greatly depending on your specific circumstances and the judge reviewing your case.

Permanent alimony is more likely in marriages that have lasted 20 years or more. As a result, you should anticipate supporting your ex until he or she retires, remarries, or dies.

Types of Alimony

Alimony comes in a variety of forms, which vary by state. The court may award one type of alimony or a mix of many types. To understand how long you must pay alimony, you must first grasp the various sorts. Here are some examples of alimony awards:

#1. Temporary Alimony

While the divorce is pending, the judge will order this sort of alimony to be paid. When the final verdict is rendered by the court, temporary alimony will be replaced with permanent alimony.

#2. Permanent Alimony

Alimony is often paid until the recipient spouse remarries or one of the spouses dies.

#3. Reimbursement Alimony

If the receiving spouse borrows money from the other ex-spouse for something like college or specialized training, and the spouse’s earning capacity increases as a result of that education, the receiving spouse may be required to pay the money spent on tuition or training.

#4. Rehabilitative Alimony

This alimony can be paid for as long as the receiving spouse needs to recover financially and become self-sufficient.

#5. Bridge-the-Gap

Similar to reimbursement alimony, financial support is provided for a set length of time so that the receiving spouse can learn a skill or obtain the education needed to boost earning potential and become more marketable.

When You’re The Only One

#1. To pay Alimony Payments

You don’t always have to leave alimony decisions up to the judge. Going to trial with your husband on any argument is a proven way to increase the cost of divorce. A lawyer is frequently required to guide you through the trial process, which includes obtaining appropriate evidence and preparing for the hearing.

As part of the divorce decision or judgment, you and your husband may agree on alimony. You can agree on temporary support payments if alimony payments can be adjusted in the future. If you’re having difficulty reaching an agreement, divorce mediation sessions conducted outside of court by a neutral third party can be beneficial. You can even mediate via the internet. You can save money on lawyers’ fees and reach a quicker conclusion if you can settle your divorce concerns on your own.

#2. Receiving Alimony

If you are the alimony recipient, you may be wondering how long you can receive alimony. As long as you were financially dependent on your husband during the marriage, the judge can order your spouse to pay you alimony. The following are examples of evidence showing you were “dependent”:

  • Your spouse provided financial assistance to you.
  • Your assets (including marital property and material possessions) are insufficient to meet your necessities.
  • You have to show that your health prevents you from working, or you are unable to work because you are caring for a child whose condition makes employment “inappropriate.”

There are still many considerations that a judge will consider when considering whether or not to award alimony.

How Is Alimony Amount Calculated?

State laws usually stipulate the considerations that judges consider when deciding whether or not to grant alimony, as well as the amount and duration of the payments. Temporary support during a divorce is handled differently than post-divorce alimony.

Considerations in Making Post-Divorce Alimony Awards

Following a divorce, judges must generally assess whether one spouse requires support and if the other spouse can pay that support. Judges should consider a number of considerations while making that decision, including:

  • The couple’s standard of living throughout their marriage, as well as their capacity to maintain a similar lifestyle following their divorce;
  • Each spouse’s income, assets, and obligations;
  • When their property is divided, the amount each spouse will receive;
  • Whether one spouse was unemployed for a length of time while caring for the family and/or parenting minor children (biological or adopted) and thus has a diminished earning potential due to a lack of employability and transferrable skills.
  • Marriage duration;
  • Each spouse’s age, health, and any disabilities;
  • efforts made by a spouse to train, educate, or develop their career; and
  • Any other reasons that the court thinks appropriate.

Many states allow (or even compel) judges to consider any history of domestic violence or other wrongdoing by one or both spouses when assessing whether to award alimony. However, one aspect is sometimes overlooked: which spouse filed for divorce first. When you file for divorce, you have the right to spousal support regardless of your income. You may seek alimony if your spouse instigated the divorce (typically by submitting a “counter” petition or complaint).

If you’re not extremely affluent, you’re probably aware that maintaining separate households at the same quality of living as a couple did when married and living together is practically impossible. This is especially true now that more divorced parents are sharing custody of their children.

As a result, both ex-spouses will almost certainly have to adjust following the divorce. The judge may decide that if you are the one who is obliged to pay support, you may make more money than you do today. If you only work part-time, you may need to hunt for a full-time job at a different company.

Can Alimony Pay Be Terminated?

Yes, alimony pay can be terminated early in three situations. Alimony payments can halt and finish early regardless of the agreed-upon/court-ordered time for alimony if one of the following three events occurs:

#1. Remarriage

If the spouse receiving alimony (the receiver spouse) remarries while alimony payments are supposed to be made, the responsibility to continue making alimony payments ends. There are a few exceptions, but remarriage generally ends the alimony obligation.

#2. Cohabitation

This is another case in which alimony might be terminated early. Cohabitation is when the receiving spouse moves in with and lives with a romantic partner. It is crucial to note that cohabitation does not automatically result in the cessation of alimony payments. Cohabitation may result in the length and/or amount of alimony being changed rather than canceled.

Demonstrating Cohabitation

The recipient spouse’s cohabitation with a romantic partner may result in the termination or adjustment of the alimony amount and duration. While this is a common issue, many paying spouses find themselves unable to prove cohabitation. Given the possibility of alimony being reduced or canceled as a result of cohabitation, the receiving spouse is unlikely to tell you if they intend to move in and cohabit with a romantic partner. Furthermore, your ex-spouse may go so far as to conceal their cohabitation in order to keep their alimony award. Regardless, there are a few questions you can ask and hints you can look for to assist you to gather the evidence you need to prove cohabitation.

#3. Either spouse’s death

Alimony payments cease at the death of the receiving spouse since those payments were personal to that individual. Similarly, alimony payments will be terminated if the paying spouse dies. Be aware that in a few cases, alimony duties can continue even after death.

Making a Plan for When Alimony Will End

The court is not always required to set the amount and duration of alimony. These are items that the parties can agree on in a written agreement. Going to court and requesting the judge to establish the amount and period of alimony based on the law can be costly and time-consuming. If the parties agree that alimony is necessary for their instance, they can weigh their need versus their ability to pay and choose their own fair and reasonable amount and length. It is not always easy to reach an agreement because parties frequently disagree, particularly when it comes to alimony. Experienced divorce lawyers can often make this process smoother. Experienced divorce lawyers may advise the parties on what is reasonable in terms of length and amount, and can assist the parties in reaching a realistic, equitable agreement while saving time and money.

In California, is alimony tax deductible?

Yes, as long as your spouse and you file separate tax returns. The paying spouse can deduct the entire amount of alimony payments made during the tax year in question. Alimony is not deductible if you file jointly.


A final divorce judgment or other court decrees may contain a spousal support agreement between you and your ex. If your ex fails to pay court-ordered spousal support, you may have to go back to court. When you file a “show cause” motion, the court will convene a hearing to examine why your ex is failing to follow the provisions of the order and what the judge can do to enforce it.

The family law courts have a variety of measures at their disposal to enforce alimony payments, and a non-compliant spouse might face fines and penalties for failing to comply with an alimony decision. If the spouse fails to make alimony payments, the judge may order him or her to do so retrospectively.

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