How many years are you obligated to pay partner alimony?

The main rule for the period you are obligated to pay partner alimony is that you pay alimony for a  maximum of 12 years. This period starts from the moment the divorce is added to the Civil Registry. If your marriage lasted less than five years, however, and you have no children, then the duration of the payment obligation is equal to the period of the marriage. In exceptional circumstances, the judge can rule on a prolongation of the alimony period. You can, of course, also agree on a period together with your former partner.

Four reasons for ending the obligation of paying alimony.

The obligation to pay alimony can end in some cases. Read below in which situation the obligation ends.

1. When the partner entitled to alimony has sufficient income to live on;

2. When one of the former partners dies;

3. When the receiving former partner remarries, lives together or enters into a registered partnership with someone else;

4. Obviously, the obligation to pay alimony also ends when the agreed upon period has ended.

How is the level of alimony determined?

Firstly, the living standards during the marriage are observed, when determining the level of alimony. This is considered to be the need of the partner earning less money. Based on this it is determined how much alimony the partner earning the most money can afford to pay. In other words: what his or her financial capacity is. This financial capacity margin is the maximum level of the partner alimony.

The lowest of the two values mentioned above forms the basis of the alimony. Because of this, the partner obligated to pay alimony will, usually, never pay more alimony than he or she can afford or is more than the need of the partner earning the least money.

Standard norm (‘Hof-norm’)

In standard situations, a simple rule of thumb exists; the so-called 60%-norm. (In The Netherlands also called the ‘Hof-norm’). This rule is in line with the family income of the partners during the marriage. The need of the partner earning the least money is set on 60% of the former family income. If the partner obligated to pay alimony has a family to support of his/her own after the divorce, the need is usually determined to be 45%.

Alimony and taxes

If you pay partner alimony, it is usually deductible from your income tax. Received alimony is considered as income and should be taxed accordingly. However, this is not always the case. With the following example we will explain this:

Example

Peter is divorcing his wife Anne. They were married with a prenuptial agreement in which an annual assessment was included. Therefore, the remaining income would be divided equally at the end of each year. During the marriage, they did not take the annual assessment into account. After the divorce, the alimony is set on €2.000 a month. Peter deducts this €2.000 from his income tax. The Tax Authorities have determined that this monthly alimony does not suffice as Anne’s cost of living, but is considered the execution of the annual assessment during their marriage. These assessments are not taxed and therefore are not deductible. The annual payment of the partner alimony by Peter can, therefore, not be deducted.

Consider the fact that not taking the annual assessment into account can have consequences for a possible divorce!