Alimony & Spousal Support
Alimony, also commonly referred to as maintenance or spousal support, is financial support that one spouse pays to another following a dissolution of marriage. Whether or not a spouse is eligible to receive alimony depends on specific factors set out by state law and, as every marriage is different, the best way to determine whether alimony will be an issue in your divorce is to consult with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Who can receive alimony?
Though alimony was traditionally paid from a husband to a wife, law allows either spouse to receive alimony when necessary. When determining whether one spouse is eligible for an alimony award, the courts must consider the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage.
- The standard of living enjoyed while in the marriage.
- Physical health, emotional condition, and age of each spouse.
- The marital and separate assets distributed to each party and other financial resources and sources of income.
- The earning capacity of each spouse, including employability, education levels, or other vocational skills, and the time required for a spouse to receive adequate education or training.
- What each spouse contributed to the marriage, including both financial contributions and also child care, tending to the home, supporting the other spouse through education programs, and more.
- Any responsibilities to care for minor children.
- Any other factor the court deems relevant.
The family court will examine these factors and determine how much alimony—if any—is appropriate, as well as the duration of the alimony payments.
Types of Alimony
Under the recent change in alimony laws, the following are four primary types of alimony that a court may award:
- Bridge-the-gap alimony—Payments are intended to help a spouse with the short-term transition from married life to single life and provide for clearly identifiable needs for a maximum of two years.
- Rehabilitative alimony—Payments will provide a spouse with the means to pursue a specific rehabilitation plan that may include education, training, or other resources necessary to support themselves.
- Durational alimony—Payments are meant to provide financial support for a specified period of time following a marriage of moderate or short length. This type may also be awarded in cases in which permanent alimony is deemed inappropriate for some reason.
- Permanent alimony—Payments will continue for an unspecified amount of time or until the receiving spouse remarries or the court otherwise modifies the alimony order. These payments generally follow a marriage of long duration.
Alimony issues have the potential to become very contentious in a divorce. When one spouse believes that he or she deserves alimony payments, rarely does the other spouse willingly and immediately concede. For this reason, alimony determinations often require litigation in front of the family courts. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on other options such as mediation to try to avoid costly and stressful litigation. However, should litigation be necessary, a skilled divorce lawyer will also zealously represent you in court.
Contact a Divorce Lawyer for Assistance
If you are facing divorce, you should always consult with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss all aspects of your case, including alimony and spousal support.