Q&A: What Factors are Considered in Alimony & Child Support/Custody Awards?

The court takes many factors into account from the anodyne to the scandalous in determining property division, alimony and child support. It really depends on the jurisdiction and the specific situation between the couple. Of course, there are specific guidelines in every jurisdiction, and there are unique rules. But there are common threads. For example, with regard to property division, you can assume that most courts will consider:

  • Contributions of the spouses
  • Whether there has been dissipation of assets or other financial misconduct pre and intra divorce
  • Whether the jurisdiction is “equitable distribution” or “community property”
  • Whether there is a prenup
  • The length of the marriage
  • Non-monetary contributions to the marriage (example giving up a career to rear the children)
  • Gender considerations
  • Age of the spouses at the time of divorce

As for child support and custody, the usual guidelines include consideration of:

  • The number of children
  • The income of the parents
  • The custody arrangement
  • The standard of living the children were used to
  • The cost of the children’s education
  • Who is at fault for the divorce and breakdown of the family
  • Abuse and violence accusations and occurrences
  • The child’s wishes and desires
  • Child care expenses
  • Healthcare costs for the child

This list is not exhaustive but as a general rule you can expect most courts to consider these factors.