and Spousal Support
Alimony, spousal support, or maintenance is the payment of support from one party to another in order to keep the receiving party in the lifestyle that they were accustomed to during the course of their marriage. Either party may receive alimony. Alimony is ordered by courts far less today than it was many years ago. This is due in part to the fact that many households are no longer one-income households.
There are three types of alimony: permanent, rehabilitative, and temporary alimony. Permanent alimony is typically awarded to one who is not and cannot become financially independent. Permanent alimony may not last for the life of the recipient. Factors including, but not limited to, age of the parties, the recipient's marital status, the recipient's need for continued financial assistance, and a change in the payer's ability to provide alimony, are all taken into account when determining whether permanent alimony should be continued after initially awarded. Rehabilitative alimony is temporary in nature. It gives a party a chance to obtain an education or additional career training in order to become self-supporting. Temporary alimony is alimony that lasts for a specific period of time usually one to two years. It is awarded in circumstances when the recipient needs a bit of financial assistance for a short and fixed period of time. Temporary alimony may also be awarded during the pendency of divorce proceedings.
Whether a party is eligible for alimony is determined
by the courts on a case-by-case basis. The court takes
several factors into account including:
Courts may also consider any other economic circumstances
in determining whether alimony is proper and the amount
that should be awarded. Every state has different laws
regarding alimony and the factors to be considered.
More than one-half of the states in the country no longer
take fault into account in granting or limiting alimony.
Alimony may be received weekly or monthly or in a
lump sum payment. Either the parties or the court will
determine the method of how alimony is received. Alimony
is taxable income to the recipient and must be reported
on yearly tax returns. It is also constitutes a deductible
amount by the payer.
The court may modify alimony if circumstances have
changed. For example, a modification may be granted
if a decrease in the payer's ability to provide
the original amount of alimony awarded to the recipient
has occurred. A modification or cessation of alimony
may be granted if the recipient remarries or if their
circumstances change. Alimony ceases upon the death
of the payer.
Instead of having alimony awarded to one party for a temporary or permanent period of time, the party could, for example, receive a larger property settlement, stay in the family home or keep an account that was previously in both parties' names. Alimony in gross is not technically alimony but refers to a property division payable either in a lump sum payment or in installment payments over a set period of time.