In simple terms, it’s a financial arrangement in which a spouse provides financial support to the other. Remember, alimony is different from child support. The latter involves paying maintenance for the well-being of a child.
Here’s an example to help you understand how alimony works:
Alice and Stephen have been married for 10 years and have a kid together. Alice has been a stay-at-home, and Stephen is the primary breadwinner, working as an accountant in a Fortune 500 company. Unfortunately, due to a few irreconcilable differences, they decide to get a divorce.
In this situation, since Stephen is the only person earning, he has to pay alimony. The same applies to reversing the situation. The spouse making money would have to pay spousal support.
In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled alimony as gender neutral. Apart from that, several factors also decide the amount of alimony awarded to the low-earning, dependent spouse. These include:
- The spouse’s earnings
- The spouse’s age
- The spouse’s earning capacity
- The spouse’s emotional, mental, and physical condition
- Relative liabilities and assets
- Marriage duration
- Contribution to a spouse’s training or education to increase earning power
- How much a spouse’s earnings will be affected if they get the child’s custody
- Marital misconduct
- Assets brought together
- The spouse’s lifestyle during the marriage
Now that you know where you stand in the alimony process and whether you are entitled to it, let’s take a look at the type the court will award you:
Types of Alimony
As the name says, this alimony is given while the divorce is in progress and provides financial assistance to the spouse with low income until a decision has been reached. It helps maintain peace in the current situation and ensures both spouses can cover their living expenses.
Permanent alimony is less common today but may still be given in certain cases. It provides financial assistance to the low-earning spouse until specific conditions are met, such as remarriage or the death of either spouse. This alimony also considers the health and age of the recipient spouse. If one spouse has health issues that limit their ability to work and support themselves, they might receive alimony until their demise.
Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to the lower-earning spouse while they are receiving training or education to become financially self-sufficient. Money is usually given for a set period until the spouse has learned the skills required to be financially independent.
Reimbursement alimony is a form of repayment that is given to the spouse who bears any expenses while supporting the other spouse’s career advancement during the marriage. This alimony is not need-based but on the principle that a spouse needs to be reimbursed for the investment they made to support their spouse.
This alimony involves a one-time, fixed payment or a series of payments with an end date. It is often used when the spouses can’t decide how to divide their assets. It helps satisfy a financial obligation without putting too much burden on either spouse.
Getting Disqualified for Alimony
The idea behind alimony disqualification is that if the spouse has found a new source of financial support, their care is no longer a concern for their ex.
If the ex-spouse becomes financially self-sufficient after the divorce, a court may decide they no longer require alimony. For example, Alice secures a well-paying job three months after the divorce and is not only able to meet her necessary expenses but enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.
Suppose your ex-spouse fails to comply with court orders related to the divorce settlement, such as providing financial documentation or following the visitation agreement. In that case, a court may consider this when determining their eligibility for alimony.
The Difference Between Child Support and Alimony
Child support ensures that children’s financial needs are met, regardless of their parents’ relationship status. It is focused on the well-being and best interests of the children.
It falls under family law and is a legal obligation in divorce proceedings.
For example, Alice is a freelancer without a set income. She gets custody of her child but is not able to fulfill all his needs. In this situation, Stephen must cover their child’s financial needs, such as healthcare, education, shelter, clothing, and food.
Child support is not tax-deductible. Nor do they consider it taxable income for the spouses. They treat it as a non-taxable transaction. Highlighting its sole purpose of benefiting the children. Unlike modification demands made by the recipient spouse, which take time. They process changes in child support quickly to ensure they meet children’s needs.
Challenges in Alimony
Alimony determination has always been and still is a debatable topic. Both parties may have differing opinions on the amount to be paid. Additionally, changes in circumstances, such as a promotion or job loss, can lead to modification requests.
The relevance and fairness of alimony in modern society are subject to stereotypes. Some believe it is financially burdensome for the earning spouse, particularly in the case where the recipient spouse is capable of working. Others argue that it remains an essential safety net for spouses, often women, who have sacrificed their careers for their marriage and family.
If you are going through a divorce, it’s important to understand the basics of alimony and the rules that apply to it in your state. For example, in Alabama, a spouse’s fault is considered when rewarding alimony, while in California, it depends on whether the spouse committed domestic violence.
It’s advisable to seek legal counsel to navigate the intricacies of alimony. Alimony does not just address economic disparities between spouses. It provides ongoing financial support to the low-earning spouse, allowing them to cover their basic expenses until such a time they are able to do it on their own. The whole process can be emotionally draining, especially when the spouses do not part ways amicably.
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