Alimony is money that is paid from one spouse to another following a divorce or dissolution of marriage. Alimony amounts will be determined by a court and may be ordered to be paid in a lump-sum payment or in periodic payments. Alimony payments may be ordered for a specified amount of time or may be permanent.
During divorce proceedings, the court will consider whether either spouse is in need of alimony payments in order to maintain the standard of living that was enjoyed during the marriage. If it is determined that alimony is necessary, the court will then consider whether the other spouse has the ability to provide support in order to fulfill that standard of living. Factors such as the income of partners, disability status, age of both spouses, and reasons for the termination of the marriage may also be considered when determining the amount of alimony. The length of time that alimony is ordered to be paid is typically determined by the length of the marriage.
In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that gender could not be considered when determining whether to grant alimony. Despite the ruling, men have historically refrained from seeking alimony from women, even when the woman was the breadwinner in the family. This dynamic is beginning to shift, and the percentage of men seeking alimony following a divorce has increased dramatically in the last several years. Many high-earning celebrity women have recently granted alimony settlements in lieu of long-term alimony payment schedules following divorce.
Alimony versus Child Support
Although alimony may be ordered in addition to child support, one may be ordered without the other and different factors may be used to determine the amount of each. Depending on the circumstances, alimony may be ordered as a supplement to child support. In most cases, alimony is taxable whereas child support is not.
State Alimony Laws
State laws surrounding the determination of alimony vary greatly. In several states, alimony is only granted if a marriage or civil union lasted for at least ten years. Other states mandate differing time frames, and some states do not place any limits on the amount of time that a couple must have been married in order to grant alimony. Some states may also have a maximum cap for alimony amounts, which may be determined as a percentage of income or as a dollar amount, whereas other states may not have a specified maximum amount. In several states, lifelong alimony has been eliminated.
Alimony may be enforced in much the same way as child support. A spouse that allows alimony to go into arrears may be found in contempt of court, and may face legal penalties. Penalties may include the loss of licenses, fines, and jail time. Licenses that may be revoked include driver’s licenses, business licenses, and hunting and fishing licenses, if applicable.
Types of Alimony
There are several types of alimony that may be granted. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to allow the partner time to seek employment that will provide sufficient income, and may be granted for a specified period of time. Permanent alimony may be paid to spouses that are in ill health or have no foreseeable way to provide an adequate living. Reimbursement alimony may be ordered if one spouse incurred significant expenses that the other spouse paid throughout the marriage.
In some states, the laws regarding alimony are considered unfair by citizens. The main controversy is that laws are perceived as being skewed in favor of women, but the duration and amount of alimony payments are also highly controversial. Many states also do not have hard and fast rules in place regarding alimony cases, so the presiding judge and court ruling may cause alimony determinations to vary widely. While alimony reform has been successfully implemented in some states, other states are still petitioning for changes that would make alimony rulings most consistent and fair.
Orlando Alimony Attorneys
An alimony attorney can be invaluable when going through a divorce and determining alimony. Alimony attorneys will provide advice regarding applicable state laws, including current updates and the results of recent cases that may apply. An alimony attorney can help to make sure that the outcome of an alimony determination is fair and reasonable for all parties.
“Alimony.” LII / Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School, n.d. Web. 10 June 2014.
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“Alimony.” Statutes & Constitution: View Statutes: Online Sunshine. The Florida Legislature, 10 June 2014. Web. 10 June 2014.
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