How to calculate alimony payments

Written by heather orr
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How to calculate alimony payments
Calculating alimony (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Alimony payments are financial support payments made by one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce. Most states do not have set laws governing alimony payments. It is usually left to the discretion of a judge to dictate whether alimony will be paid and, if so, the amount of a reasonable monthly payment. The judge will also determine the length and conditions of the payments. For instance, a judge may award alimony to a spouse until she finishes a college degree to become self-sustaining, or possibly until a young child enters school, allowing the spouse to return to work. Contrary to many beliefs, alimony is not awarded only to women. Men may also receive alimony payments. The best scenario is when a couple can agree to the terms of the divorce and alimony without the ruling of a judge.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Calculate the number of years the marriage lasted. The length of the marriage is an important consideration for a judge in awarding alimony payments. Some states have minimum requirements to even consider alimony. In Texas, for instance, the minimum number of years you must be married to qualify for alimony is 10.

  2. 2

    Decide who the main breadwinner was in the marriage. If one spouse earned a significantly larger salary than the other, a judge may award alimony to the weaker-earning spouse to help him get on his feet. This is usually referred to as rehabilitative alimony.

  3. 3

    Consider whether young children are involved. Many times a judge will award temporary alimony to a spouse who has been solely responsible for staying home to raise young children for the duration until the children begin school, allowing the spouse to re-enter the workforce.

  4. 4

    Report why the marriage ended. Several states do not award alimony payments to spouses found guilty of infidelity or other faulty offences.

  5. 5

    Determine the spouse's financial ability to pay. A judge will consider income, debts, assets and future earning capacities to help determine the amount of alimony payments, if any.

Tips and warnings

  • Have all the documentation with you to back up your request for alimony.
  • If you are having a judge decide on the amount of alimony, be prepared not to get the full amount that you hoped for.

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