Ah, alimony. No one likes to pay it.

Men hate paying their ex-wives to be their ex-wives.

And women, oh goodness, if you think men hate paying alimony . . . .

And yet, paying alimony is a pretty normal thing in Utah divorces.

In most cases, when one spouse needs alimony and the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony, the court will order alimony.

With this in mind, the questions about alimony are usually two:

  1. How do Utah courts calculate alimony?

For an in-depth discussion about calculating alimony, click here.

  1. How long do you have to pay alimony?

Book Answer

The book answer to this question is this: you have to pay alimony up to the length of the marriage, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, and then you may pay alimony for longer than the length of the marriage.

Like most things in life, the book answer and how things work out in real life are usually pretty different.

Real Life Answer

The real-life answer to “How long do you have to pay alimony?” depends on a few things.

First, it depends on whether there is a need for alimony. If there is no need for alimony, then it is almost certain there will be no payment of alimony.

Second, it depends on the length of marriage. Here are our rules of thumb for whether alimony will be awarded based on the length of marriage:

  1. Marriages less than 4 years.

Probably no alimony awarded.

  1. Marriages between 4 and 6 years.

Maybe alimony, but more on the likely side than the unlikely side.

  1. Marriages 7 years and over.

Very likely alimony awarded.

Third, it depends on whether the person receiving alimony is disabled. If the person is disabled, then alimony will usually be paid for at least the full length of the marriage, if not more.

Fourth, it depends on how close the person paying alimony is to retirement. Retirement, unfortunately, almost always marks a dramatic decrease in income. This dramatic decrease almost always means the person paying alimony can no longer afford alimony, so paying alimony stops.

Fifth, it depends on how well you negotiate during mediation. The length of time you pay alimony, or receive alimony, will vary greatly depending on how well your attorneys negotiates alimony during divorce mediation.

Bottom Line: How Long Do You Have to Pay Alimony in Utah?

I’ve given you some considerations to think about, but the bottom line, based on our experiences as Utah divorce attorneys, is this:

On average, if you pay alimony at all (e.g., there is need and you’ve been married for a long enough time for alimony to kick in), you will pay for about one-half the length of the marriage.

Example: couple is married for ten years. They have three kids, and wife has need of $1000 per month in alimony. Husband has a good job and has a little more than $1000 left over every month after paying his necessary monthly bills. Husband could expect to pay $1000 per month for around five years.

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