Are You Entitled To Alimony (Spousal Support)?

Not every former spouse receives alimony, which is also called spousal support or maintenance. Alimony will be awarded only when a former spouse is unable to meet their needs without financial assistance from a spouse who can afford to pay it. 

Spousal support may be temporary, such as when a former spouse needs time to get back into the job market, brush up on skills, complete an educational program, or raise the children; or permanent, such as when a spouse may never become self-supporting due to age or disability.

Your answers to the questions below can help you and your lawyer determine whether you're a candidate for alimony (and if so, how much), or, conversely, whether your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is, such that you will be liable for spousal support payments. FindLaw's Guide to Spousal Support pamphlet and guide to state-specific alimony laws and forms in your state are also helpful.

Questionnaire: Are You Entitled to Alimony?

Answer the following questions for yourself if you think you may be entitled to alimony, or as you think your spouse would answer them if you wonder whether you may be required to pay alimony.

How long have you and your current spouse been married? _____ years

Are you currently employed? Yes _____ No _____

Full time _____ Part-time _____ (_____ hours per _____)

If yes, for how long? _____ years

How much do you earn? $_____ per _____

For how many years of your marriage were you employed? _____ years full-time / _____ years part-time

If you are not currently employed or are employed part-time, explain why.

What post-high school education do you have? _______________________________________

What jobs did you hold before this marriage?

Were you employed when you got married? Yes _____ No _____ 

If yes, what was your position? ________________________ Salary $_____ per _____          

If no, explain.

Have you obtained more education or developed new skills during your marriage?                   

Yes _____ No _____                                                                                                                               

If yes, explain. 

Are you in good health? Yes _____ No _____

Explain any health-related limitations that may prevent you from being self-supporting.           

Explain any non-health-related limitations on your ability to be self-supporting (childcare responsibilities, current school enrollment, extended absence from the job market, the need to train to obtain skills, transportation concerns, etc.)

Did you support your spouse while they obtained an advanced degree or professional training during your marriage?

Yes _____ No _____

If yes, explain.

Did you put your career on hold during your marriage to support your spouse's career, professional development, or business development?

Yes _____ No _____

If yes, explain.

Do you plan on working after the divorce? Yes _____ No _____

Full time _____ Part-time _____ (_____ hours per _____)

Do you know what your post-divorce income will be? Yes _____ , $_____ per _____ / No _____

What are your estimated post-divorce monthly expenses? $_________/month

Please itemize your monthly expenses:

Can you continue the lifestyle you enjoyed during the marriage without spousal support? Yes _____ No _____

Did you enter into a prenuptial agreement before marrying your spouse that addressed spousal support in the event of a divorce? Yes _____ No _____

If yes, summarize the agreement with respect to spousal support here and provide a copy of the agreement to your attorney.

In your opinion, can your spouse afford to provide you with financial support while maintaining a standard of living for themself similar to that enjoyed during the marriage? Yes _____ No _____

Provide any other information you believe is important to determine whether you should receive spousal support.

Questions for my attorney:

Think You're Entitled to Spousal Support? Contact an Attorney Today

You will need sound legal advice if you're attempting to receive alimony payments from your former spouse. Whether it's to help supplement your income, allow you to finish school, or otherwise, it's essential to know the laws in your state and how they may apply to your situation.

Contact a local family law attorney who can explain your eligibility for spousal support. They will help you meet filing deadlines with your divorce proceedings and help you protect your rights.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • You may not need an attorney for a simple divorce with uncontested issues
  • Legal advice is critical to protect your interests in a contested divorce
  • Divorce lawyers can help secure fair custody/visitation, support, and property division

An attorney is a skilled advocate during negotiations and court proceedings. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

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Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Divorce is an ideal time to review your beneficiary designations on life insurance, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. You need to change your estate planning forms to reflect any new choices about your personal representative and beneficiaries. You can change your power of attorney if you named your ex-spouse as your agent. Also, change your health care directive to remove them from making your health care decisions.

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