Determining Alimony in Oklahoma
The purpose of alimony is to award the one spouse with financial support to help them maintain the reasonable standard of living that they were used to. The Oklahoma statutes (Okla. Stat. tit. 43 § 121) are fairly vague when it comes to awarding alimony, only asserting that “[e]ither spouse may be allowed such alimony out of real and personal property of the other as the court shall think reasonable, having due regard to the value of such property at the time of the divorce. Alimony may be allowed from real or personal property, or both, or in the form of money judgment, payable either in gross or in installments, as the court may deem just and equitable.”
Fortunately, alimony has been an ongoing issue and there are several court cases which set out criteria for awarding alimony to one spouse. There are four main criteria which the court will consider.
First, the party seeking alimony would have to establish their “need” for such support. This is usually demonstrated by showing how despite their income and expenses, they would still have a negative net income. The expenses must be reasonable and necessary. The court will not award alimony if the party is living beyond their means or if the party is seeking to continue living in a life style that neither party can afford.
Second, is the other parties ability to pay. This to is demonstrated by showing the difference in their income and expenses. If there is positive net income, then it could be argued that they do have the ability to pay for the other party’s reasonable needs.
Third is the length of the marriage. While there is no set law, the standard that is often used that if the court awards alimony, it is often for a period that is approximately one-third (1/3) the length of the marriage. So if the parties were married for 9 years, the court may award around 3 years of alimony.
Fourthly, is property division. The court will seek to divide property and debts fairly between the parties. As noted above, alimony can come in the form of real or personal property, or both, or in the form of money judgment. Fairly does not necessarily mean equal; and if the court determines that money payments are not a viable option, may award the spouse seeking alimony, a greater share of the marital property.
While those are the four main factors, there are several other standards that the court will look to when deciding whether or not to award alimony. These standards include, are not limited to: earning capacity of the parties, opportunity for employment, ability to obtain gainful employment, education background of either party, spending habits, and conduct of the parties
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