In Oklahoma, when a judge orders one spouse to provide financial support to the other it is called Support Alimony. If a judge orders support alimony, the judge must set a fixed sum of money that will be paid out over a period of months. Alimony is never indefinite in Oklahoma.
A typical alimony award may look like this:
The Petitioner shall pay the Respondent support alimony in the amount of five hundred dollars and zero cents ($ 500.00) per month for thirty-six (36) months for a total amount of eighteen thousand dollars and zero cents ($ 18,000.00)
In Oklahoma, support alimony is based on:
- The need of one spouse; and
- The ability of the other spouse to pay
Further, the need must have a reasonable connection to the marriage.
43 O.S. § 134
A common example alimony in a divorce case is when the husband and wife have agreed that the wife will stay home when the children are born. The wife then spends years outside of the workforce, and when the parties file for divorce the wife has difficulty getting a job that allows her to support herself without assistance. Generally, in these cases the husband has been the breadwinner, and has been supporting the family on his own. However, there can be considerable stress on both parties when they separate because although there was enough money to pay for one household, it stretches both spouses’ budgets to support two separate households.
How does the judge figure the amount of alimony?
Generally, this is what I refer to as the battle of the budgets. The way it generally looks like in court is that the financially dependent spouse brings in a budget showing how her income is inadequate to pay her expenses, and then she tells the judge that the other side has lots of extra income. The other spouse then responds with a budget of his own showing all the expenses he is paying. The judge then has to sort out what expense are valid and what are not, and in the end figure out whether there should be alimony. If the judge orders alimony, then the judge must figure out how much to give the financially dependent spouse.
The judge determines the amount of alimony based on facts and circumstances of the case. The important factors can be the demonstrated need, the parties’ station in life, the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the parties’ physical condition and financial means, as well as to the standard of living of each spouse and what they are accustomed to, and the time necessary for the dependent spouse to transition to self-supporting. If this sounds like a lot of factors, it is, and in general it is acknowledged that judges tend to each have their own way of coming up with an alimony award.