Alimony is a set amount of money paid regularly to a spouse or former spouse following a separation or divorce.

Alimony is defined broadly as one spouse’s payment to the other. It can either be ordered by a court or agreed upon by the couple during the negotiation during a divorce or following a divorce case.

Many divorced spouses receive alimony from their ex-partners either as an agreement or, most of the time, through a judge’s decision. However, some divorced couples do not receiving alimony from their former spouse. 

And part of the reason for that is that they were not married for enough time to warrant alimony payments. So, does the length of marriage dictate whether one spouse receives alimony or not? What amount of time should pass before a couple qualifies for alimony in the divorce process?

How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Get Alimony?

How long you have to be married to get alimony from your spouse or ex depends on various factors. And the laws vary from state to state so where you live will have a big impact on the answer to this question.

There are some states that require you be married for at least ten (10) years in order to get alimony. Others cap the amount of alimony you can receive rather than specifying how long you must have been married.

But there are other factors that are taken into account to determine alimony amounts. These include age and the grounds of the divorce.

More On Alimony

States generally award rehabilitative alimony. This means that a court will generally award alimony to a spouse who requires assistance in reestablishing himself or herself following the divorce. Long-term or permanent alimony is relatively uncommon.

Alimony payments can be ordered to begin while the divorce is pending in court (referred to as interim or temporary alimony) and continue for a specified period after the divorce is finalized. The court will determine the duration of your or the other party’s alimony.

Also, there is no time limit on how long you can receive alimony if you have been married for at least 20 years. If you were married for less than two decades, however, you cannot collect alimony for more than 50% of the duration of the marriage.

This is not, however, the norm for all divorces. Divorce laws vary by state, including those governing alimony and child support.

Disqualifications From Alimony

While many states do not have specific guidelines regarding how long a couple must be married before a judge will consider awarding alimony, a judge is unlikely to award alimony if the following conditions exist:

  • The marriage lasted only a few years.
  • The requesting spouse has never been out of work and thus does not need to re-establish himself or herself.
  • Nothing prevents the spouse from working.

While judges will consider the length of the marriage when determining whether to award alimony, the requesting spouse’s ability to return to work will ultimately influence the decision. This takes priority over the marriage’s length.

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