Alimony Caveats

The Equity in Marriage Institute offers a few caveats to alimony.

First, the judge determines how much alimony a divorcing spouse receives, if any.

Second, most states do not permit a spouse to retroactively seek modification of a divorce judgment that does not provide for alimony unless the agreement specifies otherwise. A nominal amount of alimony - even $1 a year preserves the right to ask for more money later.

Third, in equitable distribution states, courts may award one spouse a larger share of the marital property and also require the other spouse to pay health insurance or reasonable medical expenses not otherwise reimbursed as alimony.

Moreover, divorcing couples must be mindful of recapture, which refers to the ability of the IRS to recover the tax benefit of deduction or a credit taken by a taxpayer and, as it applies to divorce, prevents a divorcing couple from dividing their property and calling the distribution alimony.

According to the Family Law Section of the American Bar Association, the jurisdictions weigh one or more of the spousal support factors as follows:

  • 45 consider the standard of living
  • 41 work from a statutory list
  • 23 do not consider marital fault
  • 28 consider marital fault relevant
  • 32 consider the status of the custodial parent



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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ALIMONY TRENDS -- In the past, most alimony awards provided for payments to former wives by breadwinning former husbands. Now most marriages include two wage earners. Judges now are receptive to ordering women to pay alimony.
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