What Is Spousal Support or Alimony?
Spousal support (also know as alimony) represents regular payments made from one spouse to the other during a separation or after a divorce. The purpose is to recognize the recipient spouse’s contribution to the marriage and to assist that spouse to achieve financial independence where possible.
The court assumes that you have kept the same ability to support yourself that you had before marriage. Each spouse is expected to be substantially independent and self-supporting within a short period of time.
Long marriages (generally over 5 years)
For long marriages, extended or even lifetime support may be ordered. The court takes into consideration a variety of factors such as:
- Each spouses assumed earning capacity
- The property and debts received by each spouse
- The physical and mental health of the receiving spouse
- Any disparity in earning capacity between the spouses
- Duration of marriage
- Other income
- Contribution to career or education
- Contribution as a home-maker
What Are the Different Types of Alimony or Spousal Support?
There are several arrangements of support. Each arrangement is based on the varying circumstances and needs of the individual.
- Rehabilitative alimony – Fixed spousal support paid for a specific period of time. This award is modifiable for upgrades in education or new work skills.
- Lump sum support – Some states allow a spouse to pay the total alimony obligation at the time of divorce. This amount is usually equal to the total amount of future monthly payments. A possible drawback of such an arrangement is that there may be significant tax consequences, so make sure you research all of your options with a professional.
- Permanent alimony – Support Payments for an indefinite period of time. Although there is no fixed date when support ends, it should not be expected that payment will be for life. In order to alter such an arrangement, you must petition the court for a change.
Can Support be Modified or Terminated?
Yes. There are different ways in which alimony can be modified or terminated (more information in the article Events that end payment obligations are:
- The death of either spouse
- The spouse receiving alimony gets remarried Events that may end or modify payment obligations are:
- Paying spouse is either retired or terminated from work
- Substantial increase in the income of the spouse receiving alimony
- Spouse receiving lives with another person romantically (cohabitation)
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