Alimony required when there are assets?

I watched the video on alimony on your website (thanks!) which naturally talks a bit about differing income levels of husband and wife to determine who is the “dependent” spouse. But suppose the marital assets are such that each party walks away with, say, $500K or more. Would alimony still be required in this situation? Also, is there a rule of thumb on how long alimony needs to be paid in situations where alimony is paid?

I’m not a lawyer, but alimony is required in cases where marital fault (i.e. adultery, abandonment, and a small list of other faults) has not occurred by the dependent spouse. The time alimony is paid is dependent upon a court’s decision. I’ve heard that typical timelines are half the length of your marriage to the length of your marriage.

If you’re concerned about paying alimony, have you considered talking to your spouse about it? If he/she agrees and it is incorporated into a separation agreement, your spouse can waive alimony.

While the property each party receives is a factor which the court can consider when awarding alimony, the size of the martial estate does not prevent the court from awarding alimony to a dependant spouse. Whether you have a large amount of property or not, a dependant spouse can be entitled to support to maintain the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, without depleting their assets assets. While the statutes do not provide guidance as to the length of an alimony term, half the length of the marriage is a good rule of thumb in most cases.

“Half the length of the marriage” would seem to make sense for 35-year-olds married 5-6 years, but what about a couple who divorce at age 60 after 35 years of marriage where the higher earning spouse retires say at age 65 and has only the same retirement income as the spouse who gets half of it at the time of the divorce. Would he/she have to keep paying til age 78? Or what if the higher earning spouse loses their job (which is happening a lot lately). Would these things have to be anticipated at the time alimony is awarded or could there be subsequent petitions to adjust it? And i guess remarriage by the “dependent” spouse would automatically discontinue the alimony?

Longer marriages can certainly affect the term of the marriage and I have seen some cases where alimony is awarded for life. In the case where both spouses are nearing retirement alimony would be for a shorter term, and the asset division would focus on ensuring both parties had sufficient retirement income to live on.

If alimony is in a court order it is subject to modification upon the occurrence of a substantial change in circumstances. Remarriage and/or cohabitation by the dependant spouse is a statutory terminating factor for alimony.