Alimony payments are based on the earning potential of the divorcing partners. Alimony is calculated so that both partners may maintain the lifestyle that was established during the marriage, according to DivorceNet. Payments are based on many factors including income.
If there is not sufficient income to maintain the pre-divorce standard of living, a judge may award alimony so that incomes are equalized and neither party suffers more than the other financially, says DivorceNet. The amount paid to a former spouse should not be more than 60 percent of an individual's income, says judge Roderick Duncan in an article on DivorceNet. If a person is taking home less than 40 percent of their pay check, they may lose the incentive to keep their job, says Duncan.
Duncan outlines the possible award of alimony based on a spouse's income of $5,000 per month. If the former husband earns $5,000 per month and the former wife stays at home to care for three young children and earns no income, she may be awarded $1650 in child support based on state laws, states Duncan. If the former wife can show that her expenses are more than child support covers and that her minimum monthly requirement is $2,300, a judge may require that the former husband pay $650 in alimony.
Alimony laws are state-based and the definition of reasonable expenses that may be funded by alimony vary from state to state. For example, a California judge considered building up savings and investments as a reasonable expense, according to Duncan. A judge in Hawaii made an opposite ruling, stating that increasing one's net worth is not a valid standard of living consideration for determining alimony.