Alimony and Spousal Support

Alimony is financial support paid to one spouse by the other, usually a husband to a wife. It may be paid in one lump sum or in installments and can be temporary or permanent. There are a lot of different variables that can affect an alimony or spousal support order.

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What you need to know:
  • Introduction: Historically, courts viewed alimony as the continuation of a husband's obligation to support his wife, but now alimony may be granted to either spouse depending on his or her ability to earn a living and the ability of the other spouse to pay.
  • Alimony vs. Property Settlement: Divorcing spouses need to understand the difference between alimony payments and property distribution. There could be drastic tax consequences if they don’t.
  • Spousal Support - Another Name for Alimony: Alimony is the term for financial support paid from a husband to a wife. In today’s world, spousal support may be a more appropriate term.
  • Types of Alimony: There are generally five types of alimony. This is an overview of the options.
  • Modification of Alimony: A change in circumstances may warrant a modification in your alimony order. There are certain criteria that must be met.
  • Flexibility of Alimony: You can look at alimony as a flexible financial tool because of the tax advantages. When used correctly, both spouses can end up with more cash in their pockets.
  • Following the Rules: There are certain criteria that must be met when paying alimony. Here are the basic rules that must be followed.
  • Tax Advantages: There are some very big tax advantages to be had when using alimony. Don’t let them tempt you into labeling things as alimony that aren’t.
  • Alimony Caveats: There may be some things that go along with an award of alimony. You should be aware of the caveats.
  • Alimony Reform: Alimony legislation is slowly being reformed across the United States to accommodate the ever-changing face of divorce.

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Alimony for Men:
  • Alimony is Gender-Neutral: The traditional view of alimony is that the man pays, and this generally continues to be the case even today. However, men receiving alimony is becoming increasingly more common.
  • Men DO Get Alimony: As women advance in the financially rewarding careers, the number of men collecting alimony has gone up. Exact figures are difficult to come by, but divorce lawyers estimate that the husband is the one awarded spousal support in 5-10 percent of the divorces.
  • Men Seeking and Earning Alimony: The tides of equality are turning. More and more men want alimony and believe there is no shame in accepting a monthly check from their ex-wives.
  • Why Men Seek Alimony: Sometimes men seek alimony because they gave up their career pursuits to become a stay-at-home parent – a Mr. Mom. If there is a divorce, these men feel they deserve compensation for years of raising children, doing laundry and cooking dinner.
  • Alimony as a Level Playing Field: the judge, on a case-by-case basis, decides alimony awarded. In determining the amount of alimony to be paid, the judge considers a variety of factors, but since both spouses are equal under the law, alimony is no longer being automatically awarded only to the wife when a marriage breaks down.
  • The Road of Alimony Ahead: Today, men in growing numbers are receiving alimony for the classic reasons that women traditionally did. Wives are now the primary breadwinners in one-third of all marriages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and gender equality puts them at risk of paying alimony.

Suggested Reading
The Spousal Support Handbook The Spousal Support Handbook
Spousal support is one of many issues that is often difficult for spouses to agree upon. Before negotiating and even signing an agreement regarding spousal support it is very important that you understand your rights and the repercussions of any actions taken.

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DURATION -- Alimony is often considered "rehabilitative," that is, ordered as long as necessary for the recipient to receive training and become self-supporting. If the divorce decree does not specify a termination date, the payments continue until the court orders otherwise. Most awards end if the recipient remarries.
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