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How Alimony Works

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woman holding envelope with alimony

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a financial arrangement ordered by the court where one spouse provides financial support to the other after a divorce.

This arrangement aims to ensure that both parties can maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed during the marriage. Understanding how alimony works can help you navigate this complex aspect of divorce.

Types of Alimony

There are several types of alimony, each serving different purposes and durations:

1. Temporary Alimony

Also known as pendente lite alimony, this support is granted during the divorce proceedings to help the lower-earning spouse maintain their standard of living until the divorce is finalized.

2. Rehabilitative Alimony

This type of support is designed to help the recipient spouse become self-sufficient. It often includes funds for education or job training and is typically granted for a set period.

3. Permanent Alimony

Although less common today, permanent alimony is awarded when the recipient spouse is unlikely to become self-sufficient due to age, health, or other reasons. This support continues until the recipient remarries or either party dies.

4. Reimbursement Alimony

This form of support reimburses one spouse for expenses incurred during the marriage, such as paying for the other’s education or training.

5. Lump-Sum Alimony

Instead of periodic payments, the court may order a single lump-sum payment. This arrangement can simplify financial matters post-divorce.

Determining Alimony

Courts consider various factors when determining alimony, including:

  • Income and Financial Resources: The court examines both spouses' income, assets, and financial obligations. This includes not only salaries but also investment income and other sources of revenue.

  • Length of the Marriage: Generally, the longer the marriage, the more likely alimony will be awarded. Long-term marriages often result in higher or longer-duration alimony awards.

  • Standard of Living: The court aims to maintain a standard of living similar to what both parties experienced during the marriage. Significant changes in lifestyle are typically avoided.

  • Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses are crucial considerations. One spouse may require more financial support if they are older or have significant health issues.

  • Contributions to the Marriage: Contributions aren't limited to financial ones. The court considers non-financial contributions such as homemaking, child-rearing, and supporting the other spouse’s career.

  • Future Earning Potential: The court assesses the recipient’s ability to become self-sufficient, including their education, work experience, and job prospects.

Modifying Alimony

Alimony isn't always set in stone. Changes in circumstances can lead to modifications. For instance, if the paying spouse experiences a significant income decrease or the receiving spouse becomes self-sufficient, the court may adjust the alimony arrangement.

It’s essential to document any changes in financial circumstances and seek legal advice to modify alimony legally.

Tax Implications

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 significantly changed alimony tax treatment. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are no longer tax-deductible for the payer and are no longer considered taxable income for the recipient.

This change can impact both parties' financial planning, so it’s advisable to consult with a tax professional when deciding on alimony.

Navigate Alimony with Confidence: Call Us Today!

Alimony is a critical aspect of many divorce proceedings, designed to provide financial stability and fairness. If you’re going through a divorce or considering one, it’s crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the intricacies of alimony and ensure your interests are protected.

Reach out to Claery & Hammond, LLP today at (310) 817-6904 to learn more.


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