Divorce is full of hot-button topics to work through. The ones that tend to get the most focus are child custody, child support and property division. One you may not have given much thought is alimony, which refers to financial support for an ex-spouse.
Every state treats alimony differently, and New Hampshire just changed its laws this year. Knowing about this reform can help you get a clearer understanding of how alimony may affect your divorce case.
Calculating alimony in New Hampshire
Before January 2019, the calculation of alimony was not uniform or consistent. The amount of spousal support would depend on which judge oversaw your divorce. This approach led to unpredictability and unfairness, as well as increased litigation to try to get the best outcome.
The new bill changed the law by creating a general formula for judges to follow in determining an appropriate payment amount. The equation is to subtract the gross incomes of each spouse and multiply the number by 30 percent. State law stipulates how to calculate gross income as well.
If the amount is more than the spouse reasonably needs, the judge may lower it. Alimony lasts up to half of the marriage’s duration.
Factors that affect calculation
This formula is only a starting point. A judge can use discretion in raising or lowering the amount and length of payment based on the following factors:
- How long the couple was married (the longer the marriage, the more likely the award of alimony)
- The ages and physical health of each spouse
- The ability for each spouse to earn an income
- How much one spouse was financially dependent on the other
- If there are special needs children (including adults) involved
- The presence of abuse in the relationship
- How many assets each party has or will have after the divorce is final
The new law encourages greater consistency while still allowing for personal circumstances to come up with the right spousal support order.