Alimony — The Most Unpredictable Issue

When alimony is at stake in divorce settlements and trials, it is the most unpredictable issue.  Unlike child support, which is determined under statutory guideline in all three local jurisdictions, and all the other states, alimony depends on “all the circumstances.”

The courts consider a whole range of factors in determining the amount and duration of alimony.   12 factors in Maryland, FL Article, Section 11-106(b); 13 spousal support factors in Virginia, Va. Code Sec 20-107.1.E.; and 9 factors in the District of Columbia, D.C. Code Sec. 16-913(d).  All three jurisdictions include a factor that amounts to anything else the judge decides it is appropriate to consider.

How can you be confident that you have fairly and appropriately settled your alimony case if the outcome is so unpredictable?  It can be difficult but there is some guidance.  First, some factors are more important than others.  Most divorce lawyers would probably agree that the difference in the spouse’s income is the most important factor in determining the amount of alimony.  Likewise most would probably agree that the length of the marriage is the most important factor in determining the duration of alimony.  My next post is about the use of alimony guidelines.