All jurisdictions have alimony statues, but these differ both in the type of alimony permitted and in the requirements that must be met to receive it. In every state, therefore, either spouse can request alimony as long as he or she meets the state’s criteria.
Many states base their alimony statutes on guidelines contained in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (UMDA), which was written by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). The UMDA recommends that courts consider certain factors in awarding alimony. They are:
- the requesting spouse’s financial condition;
- the time required for job training or education;
- the standard of living during the marriage;
- the requesting spouse’s age, physician condition and emotional state;
- the length of the marriage;
- the ability of the other spouse to pay.
If it is evident that there is a strong need for support and that the non-requesting spouse can pay alimony, it is likely that courts will award temporary or rehabilitative alimony. Most courts permit temporary alimony but limit it either by duration or amount.
Rehabilitative alimony remains the most frequently awarded type of alimony. Courts favor rehabilitative alimony because it is intended to make the recipient self-sufficient, and it is usually offered regardless of the length of the marriage or fault in the divorce.
Additionally, courts award alimony if it is warranted by the spouse’s health or facts of the divorce. Most states prohibit permanent alimony, but spousal support comes with a variety of names, types of awards (and exceptions to those permitted awards), requirements to receive alimony, and duration.