Alimony isn’t like child support.

When there’s a child in a Utah divorce, a court will award child support. It’s pretty much that simple.

Alimony isn’t automatic like child support. Whether it’s awarded really depends on the particular facts of each situation.

How Alimony Works in Utah: A Very Quick Primer

Here’s a very quick primer on how Utah courts usually think about alimony.

A spouse must show he or she has need of alimony in order to receive an alimony award. Here’s how Utah courts normally calculate need.

First, you look at the spouse who makes the least amount of money and determine what his or her income is (income is really any money coming in from any source) and what the reasonable monthly expenditures are (e.g., debts, mortgage, daycare, food, etc.). If that spouse runs in the red (i.e., more goes out than comes in), then there is a need for alimony.

Second, you do the same calculation for the spouse who makes more money and you see if that spouse has more money coming in than going out. If so, then that spouse has the ability to pay alimony. If one spouse has a need, and the other spouse has the ability to pay, then an alimony award is likely.

When Alimony Is not Awarded in Utah Divorce

Now that we have a basic handle on how Utah courts think about alimony, here are some of the most common situations in which alimony is not awarded:

  1. Couple was married for a short time.

Any marriage less than 4 years is unlikely to result in an alimony reward. 4 through 6 six years, much more likely to get some sort of alimony award, even if it doesn’t last long. Anything over 7 and you’re in the alimony zone.

  1. Both spouses make about the same amount of income.

If both spouses make about the same amount, then when you run the numbers, both spouses have about the same need for alimony, or the same non-need for alimony. Either way, neither is paying the other.

  1. There is no need for alimony.

If both spouses make enough money, and there no need for alimony, then there will be no alimony award. Utah courts are very clear that if there is no need, there is no alimony.

  1. The spouse who should pay alimony doesn’t have the money to pay alimony.

In some Utah divorces, even if there is a need for alimony, there simply isn’t money to pay alimony. When there really isn’t enough to pay, courts will often not order alimony.

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