I have not been married long. Will I get alimony in Alabama?
Many Alabamians have the notion that divorce courts in our state never award alimony in a marriage that lasts less than 10 years. The truth is, there is no bright line rule on this issue. Although it is rare, from time to time Alabama courts will award alimony to a spouse after a short-term marriage. It will generally depend on the special circumstances in that case.
What is the purpose of alimony?
The purpose of alimony is to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing continuing income to the spouse who is either unemployed, or earning lower wages than the other. The justification for this award, in part, is that one spouse may have given up a career to support the family. As such, that spouse needs time to find ways to support himself or herself. Another purpose of awarding alimony may be to allow one spouse to continue the standard of living he or she was used to during the marriage.
Alimony awarded after a 6-year marriage
One Alabama case, decided in 2009, provides an example where an alimony award was appropriate after a marriage of less than 10 years. In Lackey v. Lackey, the wife quit her job as a nurse to care for the couple’s children, while the husband was in residency and pursuing his medical career. Upon their divorce after six years, the Husband was ordered to pay $1,500 per month in permanent alimony (which means until the wife remarries or cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex). The husband appealed the ruling, but the appellate court affirmed the award.
What factors does the court consider?
The appellate court discussed the factors that Alabama trial courts should consider in determining the need for alimony in each case. The court stated as follows:
When dividing marital property and determining a party’s need for alimony, a trial court should consider several factors, including ‘the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, the future employment prospects of the parties, the source, value, and type of property owned, and the standard of living to which the parties have become accustomed during the marriage.
It is also interesting to note that the appeals court also considered the fact that the husband was in pursuit of a professional license, which would provide him with the income necessary to pay the alimony.
If you have questions regarding alimony or any other divorce issues, contact attorney Brad J. Latta online, or by calling (205) 998-5570.