How Alimony Calculators Work
In awarding alimony payments to be made from one spouse to another following a divorce, judges in every state have been granted different degrees of discretionary power in setting a final amount. In some states, a judge can take into account any factor they feel is relevant, while in others they are required by the law to only focus on a few, specific issues.
An “alimony calculator” refers to any kind of worksheet or online tool that estimates how much you may be ordered to pay in court. While useful as a rough figure, the number you receive is only an approximation. Because the rules guiding each state’s procedures vary and because judges in many cases have the final authority, any alimony calculator you find online will attempt to take into account local rules and official state guidelines, if any exist.
Some numbers you will generally need to make an estimation include:
• The financial and property assets of both spouses
• The federal and state tax rates of both parties
• The length of the marriage
While the total financial resources of both spouses are the most important factor involved in awarding alimony, judges can take into consideration a number of factors that an alimony calculator cannot factor in. Depending on the state, these can include:
• Marital misconduct, such as adultery. In some states, this may disqualify a spouse from receiving any kind of misconduct.
• Whether financial inequality between two separating spouses would make the requested alimony payments burdensome and unfair to the paying spouse
• The standard of living established during the marriage
• Any child support payments that are being made
Alimony can be awarded on a temporary, permanent or indefinite basis. An alimony calculator may take into account:
• Spouses who are seeking support for an indefinite period of time or until they remarry
• Spouses who are seeking alimony payments for a fixed period of time, to allow them acquire the education or training necessary to become self-sustaining
• Spouses seeking permanent, regular payments
Some states have official guidelines and tables that are used to provide set amounts to award in alimony payments. If this is the case in your state, use these rather than a generic alimony calculator to receive an accurate idea of what you can expect to pay.
When two spouses agree on to cooperate in obtaining an uncontested divorce, they can draw up a separation agreement to present to the court for approval. If this is the case, you and your spouse may present an alimony payment plan. This saves both partners from the uncertainty of relying upon a judge’s ruling that may be displeasing to both parties. For some couples, this may mean agreeing to a lower or higher payment than prescribed by state guidelines. A judge may approve this if sufficient cause is shown and the payments are not unfair to either party. You may want to use an alimony calculator to create a realistic payment plan the court will approve.