Alimony, which may also be called spousal support, may be awarded to either party. Alimony is designed to provide support for a spouse for a reasonable length of time after a divorce to enable the recipient to become financially independent and self-sufficient. However, the court may award alimony for an indefinite period of time, in rare circumstances, when it is appropriate at the discretion of the court. In determining both whether someone is entitled to alimony and the amount of support, the court shall consider:
The length of the marriage;
The conduct of the parties during the marriage;
The health, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, and employability of the parties; and
The state and the liabilities and needs of each of the parties.
The extent to which a party was absent from employment while fulfilling homemaking responsibilities, and the extent to which any education, skills, or experience of that party have become outmoded and his or her earning capacity diminished;
The time and expense required for the supported spouse to acquire the appropriate education or training to develop marketable skills and find appropriate employment;
The probability, given a party’s age and skills, of completing education or training and becoming self-supporting;
The standard of living during the marriage;
The opportunity of either party for future acquisition of capital assets and income;
The ability to pay of the supporting spouse, taking into account the supporting spouse’s earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, debts, and standard of living;
Any other factor which the court expressly finds to be just and proper.
The best candidate for alimony is a spouse who put aside his or her career for many years to be a homemaker and to care for the children. As a result of the role of nurturing the children, and establishing and maintaining a home, the other spouse was able to advance his or her career in order to be able to afford to pay alimony. In some cases, the spouse is unable to work because the spouse currently has physical custody and placement of a young child.
For this type of person, the intent of an award of Rehabilitative Alimony would be to allow a person to build a work history, advance his or her education, employment training, licenses, etc. so that the person can be self-supporting and self-sufficient in the future.
Another type of person who is an excellent candidate for alimony is a person who is temporarily disabled or permanently disabled especially if the marriage has been a long-term marriage. Another good candidate for alimony is a spouse who has severely disabled children which renders it difficult or impossible for him or her to seek employment.
By Rhode Island law, the assignment of property must precede any determination of alimony because the needs of each party will be affected by the equitable distribution of the marital estate.