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What Is the Average Amount of Alimony? Here Are the Top 5 Factors

While a divorce may end all your marital obligations to your ex-spouse, it may not end all your financial obligations. Even in a divorce that doesn't involve children, you may owe your ex alimony or spousal support -- monthly payments designed to limit any unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing income to a non- or lower-wage-earning spouse.

But determining how much a spouse will owe or receive in alimony isn't always so straightforward. Here are five factors courts, attorneys, and soon-to-be exes can use to figure out the amount of alimony in a divorce.

1. What Is an Alimony Calculator?

To give divorcing parties an estimate of what alimony payments will be, some law firms, state bars, and other online legal resources offer "alimony calculators" that allow you to plug in a few key factors -- like income, earning, and standard of living during the marriage, and get an estimate of their alimony obligations.

2. How Does 'Standard of Living' Impact Spousal Support?

It's a phrase that gets thrown around (and misunderstood) a lot during divorce proceedings, especially separations of the rich and famous. But standard of living can come into play during any divorce involving a large disparity in income. But how is that disparity settled with alimony?

3. Reasons For Reducing Spousal Support

Just because alimony payments are set at a certain amount initially, doesn't mean they will always stay that way. Significant changes in life circumstances can mean altering or reducing spousal support, and here are some examples.

4. When Does Spousal Support Stop?

Sure, the amount may change, but can you ever stop paying or receiving alimony altogether? While the parties can end spousal support by agreement, there are also some state laws that end financial obligations after certain life events.

5. What to Do When Your Ex Stops Paying Alimony

If an ex-spouse stops making spousal support payments before the obligation ends, what can you do about it? While not paying alimony doesn't have the same legal and financial consequences as skipping out on child support, a non-paying ex could be charged with contempt of court if they stop paying alimony.

Your best source for an estimate on how much you might be owed or need to pay in spousal support is an experienced divorce attorney -- contact one today.

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