Courts that are tasked with a fair and equitable property division as part of a divorce proceeding must consider many factors when dividing a marital estate. In marriages where one of the parties maintain a significantly higher earning ability than the other after the divorce, simply dividing the existing marital assets 50/50 may not be fair or equitable. In these situations, Rhode Island courts are entitled to award alimony to the lesser-earning spouse to help equalize the economic outcomes of the parties in the years following the divorce.
Alimony is not automatically awarded to a divorcing spouse as a matter of course. Prior to filing for divorce, a party who desires alimony must ensure the request is included in their divorce filings, or they may forfeit the ability to receive alimony payments. When deciding to award alimony, Rhode Island courts consider several factors. These factors include the duration of the marriage, the current incomes of the parties, the income earning abilities of the parties, the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage, as well as each party’s contributions to the marriage.
Courts will be more likely to award significant alimony awards if they are persuaded that the receiving party contributed to a marriage of significant duration, and would be unable to maintain the standard of living they enjoyed during the marriage without an alimony award, If the paying party is able to afford alimony payments while not significantly sacrificing their own standard of living, then an award would be fair and appropriate.
Courts are also allowed to consider non-economic factors in determining an alimony award. Allegations of abuse, infidelity, or absence during the marriage may encourage a court to award alimony to a party who may not qualify based on financial considerations alone. Evaluating many of these factors places great discretion with family court judges. The same exact facts and arguments brought before two different judges may end in dramatically different results. Because of this great discretion, it is important for divorcing parties who seek alimony or who are disputing an alimony claim to retain experienced divorce counsel who understands how and why Rhode Island Judges award alimony.
Answering Your Questions about Alimony and Divorce
If you or someone close to you is seeking or anticipating a divorce, there may be an alimony issue even if you don’t see it. Rhode Island courts regularly award alimony to both male and female parties, and a skilled attorney on either side can make the difference between no payments and a substantial award. The experienced Rhode Island family law lawyers with Bilodeau Capalbo understand how to get Rhode Island judges to listen to our arguments surrounding alimony. We have successfully attained significant alimony awards for our clients, and also persuaded courts to deny excessive alimony claims against our clients. If you have questions about alimony or divorce, Bilodeau Capalbo can help answer them. Contact our offices today and schedule a free consultation by calling 401-300-4055.