Spousal support, or alimony, is financial support that one spouse provides to another upon divorce. The court may award alimony or the parties may agree upon it themselves.
What Factors Does a Court Consider for a Spousal Support Award?
Courts look to several factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate, how much it should be and how long it should last. An award is more likely if one party makes a substantial income and has more property than the other spouse. The court will consider:
- Whether a premarital agreement exists as to alimony
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The education, health, financial status, emotional state and ability of a spouse to support himself or herself
- The length of the parties' marriage
- Time needed for a spouse to seek additional education or training to become financially self-sufficient
- Whether the paying spouse would be able to financially support himself or herself and the former spouse
- Presence of minor children at home
- Fault (in some states)
Types of Spousal Support
There are different types of spousal support: temporary and rehabilitative, permanent, reimbursement, and lump-sum.
Temporary and Rehabilitative Alimony
Temporary alimony is given to a spouse pending the outcome of the divorce case. Rehabilitative alimony is given so that a spouse may obtain greater skills or education to financially support himself or herself. Rehabilitative alimony may also be awarded to a parent with small children until that time that the spouse is able to work outside of the home, usually when the youngest child has entered school full-time. Both types of alimony can be awarded on a periodic basis, meaning that a set amount is paid on a certain schedule.
Permanent alimony generally continues until the payor dies, the recipient dies, or the payee remarries or cohabitates on a permanent basis. Alimony can be adjusted up or down depending upon the circumstances of both parties such as retirement, illness, or if the recipient receives increased income from other sources.
This type of alimony can be paid over a period of time and is given in recognition of one spouse expending marital resources for the benefit of the other. For example, if a person was to undergo specialized training or education during the marriage and then divorced soon after, the other spouse would be entitled to receive payment whether or not that spouse was able to independently support himself or herself.
This alimony is a one-time payment used to reimburse the recipient for certain expenditures or it can be issued in lieu of a property settlement. The duty to pay continues whether the recipient remarries or receives income from other sources.
The payor receives a tax deduction for alimony payments. The recipient must report alimony payments as income on his or her taxes.
Alimony is awarded when one spouse is at a substantial financial disadvantage following divorce. The court will look at several factors in determining whether alimony is appropriate, including the health and financial well-being of the spouse seeking support and the ability of the spouse to support both parties following divorce. The type of alimony awarded varies with the parties' situation, needs, and ability to pay.
Questions & Answers: Alimony