When two people enter into marriage, each has the duty to support the other. When couples divorce, that duty to support may continue. That’s the concept of alimony, in a nutshell.
In many cases, the incomes of the two divorcing parties are disparate. For example, if one party earns $150,000 per year and the other earns $30,000 per year, the difference in their incomes is $120,000 per year. Combined, that married couple lives on $180,000 per year. When divorcing, there has to be a way to equalize the money each person will have available to live on. The party earning $150,000 will likely be obligated to pay alimony to the party earning only $30,000. There are a variety of factors that the courts must consider.
Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 46b-82 states that:
“In determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award, the court shall hear the witnesses, if any, of each party, except as provided in subsection (a) of section 46b-51, shall consider the length of the marriage, the causes for the annulment, dissolution of the marriage or legal separation, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties and the award, if any, which the court may make pursuant to section 46b-81, and, in the case of a parent to whom the custody of minor children has been awarded, the desirability of such parent’s securing employment.”
In some cases, one party to the marriage has given up a career or educational opportunity in order to stay at home and raise the couple’s children. On divorce, that party has very few employment options and may require training or education before being able to command a salary that is higher than minimum wage. It is only fair, then, that the party with the income pay alimony to the party without income in order for that disadvantaged party to be able to obtain the training or education necessary to become employable. A court will certainly take such circumstances into account when determining an alimony award.
In order to provide security to the person receiving alimony, our statutes provide that:
“The court may order that a party obtain life insurance as such security unless such party proves, by a preponderance of the evidence, that such insurance is not available to such party, such party is unable to pay the cost of such insurance or such party is uninsurable.”
This is only meant to be a brief overview of the alimony process in Connecticut. If you are in the process of divorcing, your attorney will explain your personal alimony obligation to you in detail.
In addition to this blog which is specific to the lesbian and gay community, I also publish a general blog called Attorney O’s Midnight Musings: Connecticut Law. While the posts on that blog are not specific to the LGBT community, the information is none-the-less appropriate to the community as well. The above post originally appeared on my other blog but it is useful for divorcing same-sex couples to review. Originally titled “Alimony 101“ posted By Irene C. Olszewski, Esq. on May 16, 2011.
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copyright 2013 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.