Alimony in a Divorce Action: What Factors Does a Court Consider in Entering an Order During the Pendency of an Action and as a Final Order?

Many clients come into our office from the towns of Fairfield County wondering whether they will be obligated to pay alimony to their spouse, or whether they will be receiving alimony from their spouse during the pendency of a divorce action, and/or upon the Court entering a final decree of divorce. While the Court may order either party to pay alimony to the other, the amount of alimony ordered and the duration of time that a party may be directed to pay alimony is not straightforward.

Pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes Annotated (“C.G.S.A.”) § 46b-83, the Court has the authority to enter order(s) concerning alimony during the pendency of a divorce proceeding (“pendente lite”).  The Court also has the authority to order alimony at the time of entering a final decree pursuant to C.G.S.A. § 46b-82. In entering an award of support, the Court shall consider several factors enumerated by statute, including but not limited to the following: the length of the marriage, the causes of the breakdown of the marriage, the age, health, station, occupation, amount and sources of income, earning capacity, employability, estate and needs of each of the parties in determining whether alimony shall be awarded, and the duration and amount of the award. In entering an award of alimony, while the Court is required to consider the factors enumerated by statute, it need not give each factor equal weight so long as the Court has considered all of the statutory criteria.

During a contested court matter concerning spousal support both parties will present evidence related to the criteria set forth by statute. The evidence presented may include information concerning each party’s educational background, his or her earning history, whether there are children to the marriage and each party’s ability to continue working and/or return to the workforce given this factor, as well as expert testimony on matters such as each party’s earning capacity and/or employability.  After a Hearing on the merits, the Court will then enter an order of alimony, setting forth the duration and amount of alimony to be awarded.

As a practical matter, the alimony duration will vary depending on the length of the marriage and the ages of the child(ren) if child(ren) are involved.  The amount of alimony will also vary depending on any child support component, and whether one or both of the parties are currently working and/or have the feasibility to continue working.  In establishing an amount of alimony awarded, depending on each party’s income structure, a Court may order for a party to pay the other a percentage of his or her income, but other times a party may be ordered to pay a specific monthly amount.  There are also circumstances in which it would be inequitable at the time of entering the alimony order for the Court to even establish an amount of alimony to be awarded.  However, rather than preventing a party from receiving alimony in the future, the Court may preserve that party’s right to return to Court to seek alimony during the alimony term.

At Broder & Orland LLC we understand the financial constraints that a pending divorce can pose on both parties to a divorce, and the importance of establishing an equitable amount and duration of alimony. We are adept at advising our clients on the strategies and the multitude of factors considered by a Court in establishing an alimony award. We also recognize the emotional and financial stress that a contested divorce proceeding can pose on the parties and we are empathetic to our clients’ needs.