Spousal Support

Spousal Support (Alimony)

When a married couple gets divorced, the court might award “alimony” or spousal support to one of the ex-spouses, on the basis of an agreement among the couple or a court made decision is reached. This is different from marital property division and a decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

A lot of individuals have questions concerning alimony vs. child support also. Alimony is unlike child support payments since child support payments are only to be used for minor children when they are in the care of the custodial parent. Below details the basics of alimony or spousal support.

What Is Alimony?

The intent of alimony is to limit any unjust economic impacts of a divorce by providing continual income to a no-wage-earning or lower-lesser-earning spouse. An aspect of the justification is that an ex-spouse might have chosen to forfeit their career to care for the family and needs time to establish job skills for supporting themselves. Another intention might be to help a spouse continue the quality of life they had throughout marriage despite changes of income, income taxes, bonuses, income that is taxable, tax returns, and so on.

How the Alimony Amount Established

Distinct from child support, in which most states are mandated in accordance to very specified monetary regulations, courts have wide discretion in establishing whether to award spousal support and, in such a case, the amount, and for what duration. The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which a lot of states’ alimony laws are based, suggests that courts take into consideration the below factors in making decisions dealing with alimony awards:

  • Age, physical state, mental state, and financial standing of the ex-spouses;
  • Duration the recipient would require for schooling or training to become self-reliant
  • Couple’s standard of living throughout the marriage;
  • Duration of the marriage; and
  • Ability of the one paying to support the recipient and still support themselves.

Alimony and Support Orders

Even though the award might be difficult to estimate, if the paying spouse is going to follow with their support order is potentially more difficult to gauge. Enforcing alimony is not like enforcing child support, in which has the “teeth” of garnishing wages, liens, and other enforcement devices. The recipient could, on the other hand, go back to court in contempt proceedings for forcing payment. Since alimony is able to be awarded with a court order, the devices available for the enforcement of any court order are available to a ex-spouse that is owed payment.

What is the Duration Alimony must Be Paid?

Alimony is often thought of as “rehabilitative,” to say, it’s ordered for as long as is requirement for the recipient spouse to receive schooling and become self-reliant. When the divorce decree doesn’t cite a spousal support concluding date, the payments are required to continue until the court orders differently.

Most awards conclude when the recipient gets remarried. Concluding upon the payer’s passing away isn’t inevitably automatic; in cases in which the recipient spouse is doubtful to acquire gainful employment, because of age or health issues, the court might order that further support be continued from the payer’s estate or proceeds from life insurance.

Alimony Trends

At one time, most alimony awards provided for payments to ex-wives by wage earning ex-husbands. As culture has changed, nowadays most marriages include two breadwinners, women are deemed as less dependent, and men are more prone to be primary parents, the courts and alimony awards have retained their pace. Increasingly, the convention of men paying and women receiving alimony is being diminished, and orders for alimony payments from ex-wives to ex-husbands are increasing.

Alimony trends also are changing because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision legalizing same-sex marriages across the nation. This has given an increase to alimony orders in same-sex divorce cases in which spouses with higher wage-earnings are going to be required to pay alimony to a less dependent same-sex ex.

Get a Hold of a Divorce Law Attorney for Your Spousal Support Questions

The matter of alimony is going to come up in a lot of divorces, if it’s through out-of-court settlements, or through a divorce trial. Since it’s often difficult to recover yourself financially following your divorce, alimony can play a vital role in aiding to adjusting to life after your marriage. For you to understand your options, and if you might owe or receive alimony, it’s important to get a hold of a knowledgeable divorce law attorney in your area.


    1. Spousal support (alimony) basics. Findlaw. (2019, October 7). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/spousal-support-alimony-basics.html

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