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Alimony or Spousal Support

Eligibility

You can request alimony or spousal support in a divorce proceeding.

Alimony is usually only awarded when there is a difference between the parties’ incomes and when one spouse gave up career opportunities for the good of the marriage. The court will consider the following factors in determining alimony: 

  • The receiving spouse’s career prior to the marriage;
  • Length of the marriage;
  • The receiving spouse’s education during the marriage;
  • The receiving spouse’s marketability to potential employers;
  • The receiving spouse’s ability to support him or herself;
  • Whether the receiving spouse gave up career options to stay at home with children;
  • The receiving spouse’s property award; and
  • The disparity of earnings between the parties currently and the potential future earning disparity. 

Types of Alimony

The court can award alimony in a variety of ways.

  • “Rehabilitative alimony” gives one party alimony payments for a short amount of time so that party can obtain an education or acquire job skills.
  • “Lump sum alimony” is a sum of money awarded as part of the property settlement rather than in monthly payments.
  • “Periodic alimony” are payments for an established amount of time.
  • “Permanent alimony” continues indefinitely, until one of the parties dies or until the receiving spouse remarries. Permanent alimony is rarely awarded. 

Alimony IS taxable income.

Modification

Either party can seek to modify an alimony award after it is made.

Only future support payments can be modified, not past support.

An alimony award may be decreased or ended if the paying spouse can show that the financial situation of either party changed. Examples of such changes are that the paying spouse cannot afford the order or the receiving spouse is living with another person.

Periodic support can be changed and the ending date extended if the modification happens before spousal support ends.

Alimony ordinarily ends when the receiving party remarries or starts to live with a romantic partner.