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What factors might a court consider when determining alimony?

In Mississippi, it used to be the case that alimony -- financial payments made by one spouse to another after a divorce -- was a means to punish a man who had committed some sort of marital fault against his innocent wife. However, this is no longer the case. First of all, either men or women may be ordered to pay alimony, also known as spousal support. Moreover, it is no longer issued as a punishment. Instead, it is based on the financial needs of the receiving spouse and the ability of the supporting spouse to make such payments. It may be paid either periodically or as a single lump sum.

When issuing an alimony order, the court must determine exactly how much should be paid. There are a number of factors the court will consider when doing so. First of all, each party's health may be taken into account. In addition, each party's income as well as their earning capacity may also be a factor. The living expenses of the parties along with the reasonable needs of the parties may also be factored into the alimony award. In addition, the amount each party may pay in income taxes may be taken into account. Finally, the court will take into account any other related issues when determining an alimony award.

In general, the goal of alimony is to provide the party receiving alimony with a similar standard of living he or she enjoyed while married. However, the amount of alimony awarded needs to be reasonable and the party paying alimony also has a right to maintain a normal life and reasonable standard of living. Since many spouses both earn an income in today's society, the purpose of alimony is in general for each of them to keep up a certain standard of living even though they have divorced.

As you can see, the court has considerable discretion when determining how much alimony to award, if any, after a divorce. In the end, it is important that whatever amount of alimony is awarded is fair, appropriate and meets the needs of each party.

Source: The Mississippi Bar, "How is the Amount of Alimony Determined?," accessed March 14, 2016

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