Alimony payments and the duration thereof may be a significant issue in a divorce action particularly when the parties have income and earning disparities.

The Court may issue an order for payment of alimony to either party when deemed just and proper. The Court will specify the amount, duration and basis for such award. The order may also be retroactive to the date of filing.

Generally the Court will weigh and balance the following factors in awarding alimony however alimony is an extension of an equitable distribution of property and often time it is configured simultaneously.

1) Financial structure
  • Financial abilities and earning potential of parties clearly dictate and set a financial parameter as to which party would be better suited to contribute toward the other.
2) Secure employment
  • Time needed for alimony receiving party to secure employment and self-sufficiency would determine the amount if not the duration of alimony payments.
3) Standard of living
  • Parties standard of living during the marriage is an important consideration because the court will be seeking to legally restore parties to the financial position they were before the separation and to the extent possible.
4) Length of marriage
  • The length of marriage would dictate to certain extent the duration and amount of alimony generally the longer the marriage the longer period for award of alimony factoring in also the other relevant elements.
5) Contributory party
  • Separation causes and the contributory party is again a consideration with regards to alimony.
6) Physical and emotional factors
  • Age, physical and emotional status, financial landscape, needs and liabilities of each party all would be considered by the court in awarding alimony as also discussed above in the distribution factors.
7) Ability to pay and financial resources
  • Ability of the party paying alimony to meet his or her needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony.  The court will consider other financial obligations and burden imposed on the party paying alimony to balance the interests involved.  Financial needs/resources of each party, including all sort of income accumulated or otherwise.


The court when appropriate and requested may grant alimony right away and while the litigation is ongoing.  Such is referred to as pendent lite alimony.

Specifically, during the pendency of action filed for:

  • Legal Seperation,
  • Divorce, or
  • Termination of domestic partnership.

The Court may grant one party to pay the other party Pendente lite:

  • Alimony,
  • Child Support,
  • Health insurance benefits,
  • Cash medical support,
  • Legal fees.

The Court will use the same legal elements in awarding alimony to determine the amount and appropriateness of the Pendente lite support (support pending litigation).

The Court may also enforce payment of Pendente lite support via order for:

  • Property attachment,
  • Garnishment and wage withholding,
  • Even imprisonment and contempt for violating court order.

Refer to our DC Divorce Lawyer page for information on other categories of Washington DC Divorce.