In the jurisdiction where I practice law (Utah), the question is not whether an abused spouse who makes more money than the abuser must pay alimony to the abuser, but whether it would be, under the totality of the circumstances, equitable for an abused spouse who makes more money than the abuser to pay alimony to the abuser.
In Utah, the factors that bear on whether alimony is awarded, how much is awarded, and for how long are cited below in footnote one , but the main factors are 1) the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse; 2) the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income, including the impact of diminished workplace experience resulting from primarily caring for a child of the payor spouse; 3) the ability of the payor spouse to provide support; 4) the length of the marriage; and 5) whether the recipient spouse has custody of a minor child requiring support.
So, for example, if the wife’s income is appreciably greater than the husband’s, and the abusive ex-husband’s abuse consisted of infrequent and relatively mild emotional abuse (such as name-calling), that would probably not be enough “fault” on the part of the abusive husband to justify denying him alimony.
But if the abusive ex-husband’s abuse consisted of chronically beating the hell out of the wife, terrorizing her, shamelessly and recklessly cheating on her in serial extramarital affairs, and/or grossly neglecting the basic needs of life of the wife, etc. that might constitute enough fault as to justify denying him alimony.
The fault of the husband would essentially need to be so egregious as to justify denying him the financial support he would otherwise merit.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277
 Here are the alimony factors for Utah:
· the financial condition and needs of the recipient spouse;
· the recipient’s earning capacity or ability to produce income, including the impact of diminished workplace experience resulting from primarily caring for a child of the payor spouse;
· the ability of the payor spouse to provide support;
· the length of the marriage;
· whether the recipient spouse has custody of a minor child requiring support;
· whether the recipient spouse worked in a business owned or operated by the payor spouse; and
· whether the recipient spouse directly contributed to any increase in the payor spouse’s skill by paying for education received by the payor spouse or enabling the payor spouse to attend school during the marriage.
· The court may consider the fault of the parties in determining whether to award alimony and the terms of the alimony. “Fault” means any of the following wrongful conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage relationship:
- engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party’s spouse;
- knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or a minor child;
- knowingly and intentionally causing the other party or a minor child to reasonably fear life-threatening harm; or
- substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor child.
· the standard of living, existing at the time of separation, although the court shall consider all relevant facts and equitable principles and may, in the court’s discretion, base alimony on the standard of living that existed at the time of trial.
· In marriages of short duration, when no child has been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider the standard of living that existed at the time of the marriage.
· The court may, under appropriate circumstances, attempt to equalize the parties’ respective standards of living.
· When a marriage of long duration dissolves on the threshold of a major change in the income of one of the spouses due to the collective efforts of both, that change shall be considered in dividing the marital property and in determining the amount of alimony. If one spouse’s earning capacity has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of both spouses during the marriage, the court may make a compensating adjustment in dividing the marital property and awarding alimony.
· In determining alimony when a marriage of short duration dissolves, and no child has been conceived or born during the marriage, the court may consider restoring each party to the condition which existed at the time of the marriage.
· Alimony may not be ordered for a duration longer than the number of years that the marriage existed unless, at any time before termination of alimony, the court finds extenuating circumstances that justify the payment of alimony for a longer period of time.
· Unless a decree of divorce specifically provides otherwise, any order of the court that a party pay alimony to a former spouse automatically terminates upon the remarriage or death of that former spouse. However, if the remarriage is annulled and found to be void ab initio, payment of alimony shall resume if the party paying alimony is made a party to the action of annulment and the payor party’s rights are determined.