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Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees – How Much Alimony to Expect

Some of the most frequent questions that parties have regarding divorcing are regarding alimony. Most parties to divorce are curious as to how much they will receive or pay, how long the payments will last, and what factors the court will use to determine alimony.

An award of alimony is not meant to punish a spouse, but rather is based on a spouse’s continuing duty to support his or her family. The most common misconception regarding alimony payments in Connecticut is that there is a guideline or strict rubric that the court will use. Connecticut law provides no guideline for the courts to follow when determining alimony payments and their duration. Instead, it affords the court broad discretion to determine alimony on a case by case basis.

The court will use many factors to determine alimony payments. These factors include: the length of the marriage; the causes of the dissolution; the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties. The court may use all or only some of the factors. Moreover, the court may give one factor more weight than another.

The amount of alimony awarded is not set in stone. Following a substantial change in circumstances, the alimony order may be set aside, modified, or continued beyond its stated duration. A common reason for an alimony order to be modified is if the receiving party lives with another party, thereby changing his or her financial needs. When modifying alimony, the court will use the statutory factors and take all circumstances into account as it did while deciding the initial order.

The judge is not the only device through which alimony is awarded. Parties often take matters into their own hands and fashion agreements among themselves based on their particular circumstances. In these agreements the parties will decide how much alimony will be awarded, the duration of the award, and circumstances that will modify or cancel future payments. Parties can also waive alimony through written agreement, however, once alimony is waived, the parties cannot return to court to request alimony, even if a drastic change in circumstances has occurred.

Due to the subjective nature of the Connecticut statute regarding alimony, it is impossible to determine the amount of alimony a person will receive or pay because the court uses a variety of factors to determine what is fair and equitable under the circumstances of each case. The only way a party can know his or her alimony for certain is if they are able to reach an agreement with their spouse before going to court.