Sometimes, when Rhode Island couples divorce, one seeks ongoing cash payments from the other. Those cash payments, referred to as spousal support or alimony, can be for a very short period after the divorce, or they can be for a very long time after the divorce.

When alimony is for a short period, it is often because the marriage itself was short or because the person to whom the alimony is given is quickly able to become self-sufficient by getting a good job or by getting remarried. When alimony is for a long period, it is often because the marriage itself was long, the person getting it was married for a long time and they are not positioned well to support themselves after the divorce. For example, if a husband gave up his career to be a full-time stay-at-home father for 20 years, he would be disadvantaged when trying to get back into the workforce and could be awarded alimony from the woman he had been married to.

Generally speaking, in addition to the duration of the marriage and ability of each person to earn income after the marriage, alimony awards are based on things like the age and health of each person, the standard of living within the marriage and what each contributed during the marriage to the education and earning ability of the other.

Marital misconduct can also affect alimony levels after the divorce, as will the judge’s determination of the monetary needs of both parties. The judge will also look at how long it will take a person who is awarded alimony to become self-sufficient. For example, someone who was in a five-year marriage and stayed home for all of it may need to go back to college to get education and training for a career.