Are Alimony Payments Dependent on the Length of the Marriage?

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If you are filing for divorce, you probably expect alimony payments to be a part of the arrangement. Whether you are the paying spouse or the one receiving alimony payments, you are likely wondering how long this arrangement will last. Multiple factors are considered when determining alimony payments, but one that could affect the length of the paying spouse’s obligation is how long the marriage lasted. A Tazewell County alimony lawyer can tell you more about what to expect when an alimony agreement is being negotiated and finalized.

How Does Marriage Length Affect Alimony Payments?

Generally, a judge will follow a certain formula when determining how long an alimony agreement should last. Alimony payments will last for a certain percentage of time relative to the marriage length. We can see some examples here:

  • Married less than five years: Alimony payments can last for 20% of the time you were married
  • Married five years: 24%
  • Married 10 years: 45%
  • Married 15 years: 64%
  • Married for 20 years or more: 100% or permanent spousal maintenance

So if you are married for five years, spousal support could be required for a little over a year. Couples married for 10 years could have an arrangement for four years and six months. A paying spouse whose marriage has ended after 15 years could be obligated to make payments for just over nine and a half years.

The longer your marriage lasts, the longer your spousal support arrangement is going to last. People who are married for 20 years or more might even end up with an agreement that has them paying alimony for the rest of their lives.

Are There Situations Where This Formula Does Not Apply?

Most divorcing couples are going to be subject to the state’s spousal support formula we outlined above. Some rare exceptions do apply though. The amount of alimony and the length of an agreement may need to be adjusted if:

  • The paying spouse already has child support or spousal support payments to make
  • You and your spouse have a combined annual income of over $500,000

At that point, these percentages still serve as a guideline, but other considerations can be made.

Can Alimony Agreements End Earlier Than Anticipated?

There are a few situations in which an alimony agreement can be terminated earlier than expected. This can occur when:

  • The supported spouse remarries
  • The paying spouse can show that the supported spouse is cohabitating with a romantic partner
  • One of the spouses passes away

Spousal support agreements can also be modified in some situations, but the above scenarios are generally the only ones in which a negotiated agreement can be ended early.

Schedule an Appointment With Our Experienced Divorce Lawyers

The divorce process can be a complex one, so if you have questions or need help navigating things like alimony agreements, we are here to help. Contact Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can be of assistance.

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