Wondering how long do you have to pay alimony?
This article will tell you EXACTLY how long alimony will last in your scenario.
And it covers when alimony can be permanent.
(Meaning you could be paying it for the rest of your life.)
So, let’s dig in.
Divorce can be devastating. It’s heartbreaking when parents lose custody of their children. Spouses end up having to pay agonizing amounts of alimony.
If you want to protect your rights, not wrongfully lose custody, and not get raked over the coals financially, fill out the form below.
How long do you have to pay alimony varies.
It varies from state to state and judge to judge.
Each judge has the ability to decide how long you have to pay alimony.
The state does not give them a set equation to determine alimony.
But they do follow general guidelines for how long you have to pay alimony.
So what are the guidelines?
The table below will give you an idea for how long do you have to pay alimony.
|Length of Marriage||% of Length of Marriage||Duration of Alimony|
|< 5 Years||20%||2 months - 1 year|
|5 - 6 Years||24%||1.2 - 1.4 years|
|6 - 7 Years||28%||1.7 - 2.0 years|
|7 - 8 Years||32%||2.3 - 2.6 years|
|8 - 9 Years||36%||2.9 - 3.3 years|
|9 - 10 Years||40%||3.6 - 4.0 years|
|10 - 11 Years||44%||4.4 - 4.8 years|
|11 - 12 Years||48%||5.3 - 5.8 years|
|12 - 13 Years||52%||6.3 - 6.8 years|
|13 - 14 Years||56%||7.3 - 7.8 years|
|14 - 15 Years||60%||8.4 - 9.0 years|
|15 - 16 Years||64%||9.6 - 10.3 years|
|16 - 17 Years||68%||10.9 - 11.6 years|
|17 - 18 Years||72%||12.3 - 13.0 years|
|18 - 19 Years||76%||13.7 - 14.4 years|
|19 - 20 Years||80%||15.2 - 16.0 years|
|20+ Years||100% - Permanent||20+ years|
The factors that contribute to how long you pay alimony are:
How long you have to pay alimony really depends on the type of alimony you have.
There are five types of alimony:
Temporary alimony only gets paid during the divorce process.
After the divorce is finalized, temporary alimony no longer gets paid.
Normally, temporary alimony gets replaced by another alimony.
If you owe another type of alimony AFTER the divorce is finalized, this replaces temporary alimony.
The judge gives you the court orders to finalize your divorce.
At this point, the temporary alimony will get canceled.
And you’ll receive your orders for the longer-term alimony.
Reviewable alimony means that the spouses will return to court later.
At this later date, the courts will determine if the alimony should be extended, modified, or terminated.
Sometimes the paying spouse is required to petition the courts to end reviewable alimony.
Related: How to Leave Your Husband
Permanent alimony is financial support paid from one party to another after a divorce.
Permanent alimony gets paid until one of the spouses dies.
Reimbursement alimony pays back a spouse for time, money, or effort.
Think of a spouse who worked to put the other through college or a work-related program.
Let’s say the spouse going to school is earning more money.
In this case, reimbursement alimony may get awarded.
Reimbursement alimony lasts until 50%-100% of the tuition gets paid back.
Related: Questions to Ask A Divorce Lawyer
Rehabilitative alimony gets paid to help your spouse adjust to the finances of single life.
Usually, rehabilitative alimony gets paid to stay-at-home spouses.
It allows them to have time to gain the skills necessary to start making a reasonable income.
Once they are self-supporting, you can petition the court to stop paying.
Related: Legal Reasons for Divorce
Most states require a minimum length of marriage to get alimony.
The average length of time you have to be married is 3 years.
Like types of alimony, this also varies between states and judges.
Some won’t order alimony before 5 years of marriage.
While others will allow you to get alimony after 1 year of marriage.
But, on average, you can expect to have to be married for 3 years to get alimony.
Related: Divorce Statistics
Temporary alimony will get ordered to start during the divorce process.
Temporary alimony usually starts after the first court appearance.
Other alimony starts after the divorce has been finalized and you get your divorce decree.
The divorce decree will include your alimony orders.
Once you have these alimony orders, alimony will start getting paid the following month.
Related: How Long Does A Divorce Take
When does alimony end depends on the court orders you have.
Permanent alimony will end when one spouse passes away.
Temporary alimony ends when the divorce gets finalized and you have a divorce decree.
When other types of alimony end depend on your situation.
Either the alimony will end on the date your court order specifies.
Or you will have to petition the courts to end alimony.
But you may be unsure when your alimony ends.
If this is the case, call the county clerk’s office that issued your divorce decree.
How long do you have to pay alimony depends on:
Let’s say that your marriage lasted the average length of marriage – 8 years.
And that you filed a no-fault divorce.
In this case, most likely, you have to pay alimony for 2.6 years.
Wondering, “Do I have to pay alimony?”
In general, you have to pay alimony to allow your spouse to maintain the lifestyle you provided them.
The courts will look at your spouse’s earning potential, not their income.
Let’s say your spouse was a stay-at-home mom.
But she also has a nursing degree where she could go earn $75,000+.
They would take into account that her earning potential is $75k+.
They wouldn’t consider much that she’s currently earning $0 by choice.
This will make it less likely that you have to pay alimony.
(Unless your earnings are crazy, like $200k+ per year.)
Alimony after 20 years of marriage has no limits on how long it will last.
And alimony after 20 years of marriage typically lasts how long your marriage lasted.
Meaning if you were married for 20 years, alimony could get paid for 20 years.
In most cases, alimony after 20 years of marriage is permanent.
Meaning that alimony will last until one of the spouses passes away.
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This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.
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