What Does the Court Consider in Determining Alimony?

In Utah, alimony is based on need and may be awarded to either the husband or the wife.  The purpose of alimony is to prevent the recipient spouse from having to seek public assistance and to preserve the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.

In calculating alimony, the court focuses on how much money the parties need to cover all of their expenses.  Both parties will be required to file a financial declaration and verification of all income, assets and expenses in the form of bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, billing statements and property titles.  If one spouse is unable to cover his/her monthly expenses, and the other spouse earns a sufficient income to cover those expenses, the court will likely award alimony to the disadvantaged spouse.

It is much more cost effective to live together and share expenses than to maintain two separate households.  In most cases, neither party can afford to maintain two households.  Where appropriate, the court may attempt to equalize the parties’ standards of living.

Voluntarily leaving your job or working fewer hours will not help bolster your alimony case.  In addition to considering current income, debts and obligations, the court may consider a number of other factors, including:

  • Past employment history;
  • Ability or inability to earn an income;
  • The length of unemployment;
  • Career training;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • Whether the recipient party has custody of children who need support;
  • Whether the recipient spouse worked for a business owned or operated by the other spouse;
  • Whether the recipient spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education or training; and
  • The standard of living during the marriage.

Alimony can be modified upon a substantial change in the circumstances of the parties, such as a permanent and involuntary change in income, disability or retirement.  Alimony may only extend for a period of time equal to the length of the marriage and may be terminated early, if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates with another person.