Spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is the payment from one spouse to another either ordered by the family court or agreed-upon in a divorce settlement agreement. Alimony is designed to limit any unfair economic advantage one spouse has over another. It can be ordered as rehabilitative, temporary or permanent. While there are several factors to consider when determining eligibility for alimony, the family court typically looks at the financial condition of each spouse both before and after the divorce.
Generally speaking, alimony is not automatic despite what many think. Although every state has their own laws regarding spousal support, every state has numerous requirements that an individual must meet in order to be eligible to receive alimony. And typically, judges can use their discretion when working out the details of spousal support.
Contrary to popular belief, alimony is gender-neutral and not only awarded to women. Historically, alimony was believed to only be a payment from a husband to his wife after divorce. As times have changed and women became a more powerful addition to the workforce, this common belief became more of a common misconception.
Alimony is not always required to be paid through monthly payments. Depending on how much alimony is ordered and the payers financial condition, it may be payable in one lump sum rather than in monthly payments. Regardless of how the alimony is paid, there are still tax implications that both the payer and recipient should keep in mind.
Alimony has changed drastically over the last several decades. For couples facing divorce, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney about how spousal support has changed and how these changes may affect their divorce.