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Alimony and Spousal Support 101

Contrary to what you might have heard, spousal support and alimony are alive and well in Nevada. If your spouse requests it and the judge in your divorce decides that he or she needs it, it might be granted to them.

Alimony is financial support given by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce. Alimony payments are deductible to the payor and considered income to the payee by the IRS.

Unlike alimony, spousal support is financial support given by one spouse to the other during the marriage, rather than after a divorce, usually as a part of a separate maintenance action (a.k.a. legal separation).

Alimony is separate from any property settlement the parties might also enter into as a part of a divorce or legal separation.

Since the advent of more married women in the work force, alimony isn't granted as often or as liberally as it once was when women more typically were stay-at-home moms or homemakers.

Despite the fact that two-income families are now more the norm in our society, a judge will still consider alimony or spousal support under the following conditions:

  • when there is a disparity in income between the parties
  • when the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership for a long period of time
  • when a spouse needs financial support because of a health issue
  • when a spouse needs retraining to get back into the work force

Other considerations under NRS 125.150 (Nevada law on alimony) include:

  • the standard of living to which the couple was accustomed
  • the career of both spouses before the marriage
  • whether one spouse has advanced the other spouse's career
  • age and education of the parties
  • the “ability to pay” of the spouse who will be paying alimony

Note that Nevada is a "no fault" state, so bad acts (such as cheating on a spouse) that do not cause economic harm or "community waste" are not grounds for temporary spousal support or alimony.

If you need money right away (to support the household and pay community bills) when you file for divorce, you must file a Motion for Temporary Spousal Support. This will get you a hearing in front of the judge sooner rather than later.

In Nevada, a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding whether to grant alimony or not, as well as how much and for how long --there are no set rules here:

If it's a marriage of less than 3 years, alimony is unlikely though not impossible, especially if one of the parties has been out of the work force during the time of the marriage and has no immediate way in which to earn an income. This is even more possible if there are children of the parties who live with the party who needs the support. If the marriage is from 3 to 20 years, alimony could be granted for as many years as half of the length of the marriage, e.g., if married for 10 years, alimony is paid for five years. If the marriage was longer than 20 years then permanent alimony is highly possible, and even likely, but again this depends on the financial status of each party and ability to earn an income. Alimony ceases by operation of law on death or remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony. Alimony can be modified if there is an increase or decrease of 20% of more in the paying party's income. This is a change of circumstances. However, the Court will look to see if the payor is under employing or un-employing himself to make sure that the modification motion is in good faith. Parties also have the option to stipulate to non-modifiable alimony which would preclude a modification motion.

An option to monthly alimony payments is a lump sum non-modifiable alimony. In fact, with much older couples the Court will often consider lump sum alimony instead of periodic payments simply to avoid the payee becoming suddenly destitute because of the untimely death of the payor.

If this has confused you, you're not the only one. Unfortunately, in Nevada, there are no guidelines for support like there are for child support, and our family court being a discretionary court, what you get from one judge, you might not get from another


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