How Long Can You Receive Alimony Payments?
Each year, roughly 450,000 people receive alimony payments. This money can be a way of compensating newly divorced spouses for the unpaid labor they performed during their marriage, but it usually is not meant to last forever. If you are receiving alimony payments, understanding how long they will last can help you make smart financial choices.
There’s No Set Rule for Alimony Length
Unlike child support, there are no legal requirements for how much alimony a person gets or how long alimony lasts. If a couple comes to their own decision regarding alimony length, the court rarely interferes with a divorce lawyer drafting an agreement. However, if two people cannot reach a fair decision on their own, the court may get involved. Typically, judges determine the length of alimony based on factors such as:
- How old both parties are
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouses’ realistic earning potential
- How many savings each spouse has
- Whether the spouse has custody
- What each spouse’s marital expectations were
- Whether the marriage ended due to infidelity
Though there’s no strict rule, most alimony payments tend to last for somewhere between 15 percent to 40 percent of the length of the marriage. The average alimony payments end within 5 to 10 years of the marriage ending.
Alimony Often Ends Once a Spouse Can Support Themselves
In most cases, alimony is meant to support a spouse who gave up their career to assist their partner with things like childcare and home care. Therefore, alimony is supposed to bridge the gap between a person leaving their spouse and rebuilding their career. Often, the alimony is set to end once a person has had a reasonable amount of time to become self-sufficient.
There can be various ways of determining this. The most common guideline is that alimony ends after remarriage. Pennsylvania law also acknowledges that alimony usually should end if the recipient is cohabitating with another party in a marriage-like arrangement. In some cases, a couple may agree for alimony to end after a person graduates from school, or any minor children leave the home. One party can always ask for alimony to end after a situation changes. Therefore, if one spouse gets a high-paying job, their ex may be able to petition the court to end alimony payments ahead of schedule.
Permanent Alimony Is Rare
It is extremely rare for a court to order indefinite alimony with no specific end date. This usually only happens after the end of long marriages in which one spouse has no savings or work experience. The most common example of this happens when two people get married at a very young age, have children immediately, decide to have one parent stay at home and do not divorce until they are seniors. Since a senior with absolutely no job history is unlikely to get a job that pays decently, they could need alimony for the rest of their life.
Permanent alimony can also occur if a spouse is incapacitated. If one person has a mental or physical condition that keeps them from caring for themselves, that individual may need alimony to survive. The court is also more likely to order extreme alimony amounts when one spouse has a lot of money and the other has none. So if one spouse is a millionaire and the other spent the 20 years of marriage without working at all, lifelong alimony is a little more likely.
If you are in a situation in which alimony can be helpful, it’s important to consult with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you draft an alimony agreement that suits your needs. At the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner, our team will work hard to help you get the alimony you deserve. Learn more about our Jenkintown divorce services by calling (215) 886-1266 or filling out our contact form.