Does Utah allow ex-husbands to collect alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is money one former spouse must pay to the other after a divorce. There was once a time when certain states allowed only former wives to receive alimony under the reasoning that men were the sole breadwinners and women needed financial support to survive.

Times have certainly changed. In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Alabama law that allowed only women to collect spousal support. The decision, Orr v. Orr, paved the way for men to request alimony in situations in which their ex-wives were the primary breadwinner and they needed time or educational opportunities to be self-sufficient after a divorce.

In Utah, both men and women have equal access to alimony and courts cannot favor one party over another due to gender. However, there are still rigorous standards that any individual seeking alimony must meet for a court to award it.

How do Utah courts decide on alimony awards?

When one party, known as the requesting spouse, seeks alimony, Utah courts consider factors related to the parties' marriage, their conduct related to the marriage and their future earning potential. One of the factors a court will consider is the couple's standard of living during their marriage. This is meant to set the bar in terms of what the requesting party has grown accustomed to while the couple was still together.

Once the standard of living is established, courts will look at certain factors related to each spouse's financial circumstances. This includes the financial condition and needs of the spouse who is requesting support, the requesting spouse's earning capacity, and the non-requesting spouse's income. Additionally, the court may look at elements related to the marriage, including its length, whether the couple has children (and who has custody) and whether the requesting spouse contributed to the other's earning capacity.

In addition, the court may examine both individuals' behavior within the marriage, specifically fault or misconduct which might have led to the divorce. It may consider the ages and physical health of both spouses and whether one of them left the workforce to care for the couple's children in the past. It is also at the court's discretion to consider any other factors it deems relevant, as long as they are not unconstitutional, such as using the spouse's gender as a deciding factor.

If a court determines that the requesting spouse qualifies for alimony, it may order this support to take place for a term no longer than the total length of the couple's marriage. Additionally, such support would terminate if the requesting spouse remarried, regardless of the financial security within the new marriage.

Spousal support is an important element of divorce and it is important that neither party agrees to an arrangement that is not in his or her best interests. If you're going through a divorce in Utah and need assistance with alimony or any other issue, consult a skilled Salt Lake City divorce lawyer.