How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

When a married couple decides to divorce, there’s a lot that goes into the process. Not only do they have to divide their property and assets, but they’ll also have to figure out things like child support and alimony.

Chances are, you may have heard the term alimony, but you’re not too familiar with it. If you don’t know much about it, we’ll explain more in this article.

Are you curious to know the answer to the question, “What is alimony”? If so, continue reading below.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony is spousal support. It helps the husband or wife in the situation maintain their lifestyle after they are no longer in the marriage. Alimony consists of payments made to one spouse or the other.

Depending on the situation, spousal support payments can either be temporary funds provided while a divorce is pending, or they can be a permanent award that’s part of a divorce decree. The purpose of alimony is to balance out the financial resources of a couple that’s divorcing.

A judge examines whether or not one spouse requires monetary assistance, and if the other spouse actually has the means to pay the alimony. In most cases, alimony is awarded during divorces when spouses have unequal earning power and have been married for an extended number of years.

If two people have only been married for a couple of years, a judge is unlikely to award alimony. Actually, some states forbid alimony awards unless a couple has been married for a certain number of years.

Essentially, spousal support comes into play when two people have established a long life together, and one of the spouses earns a significant amount of income. Without spousal support, the spouse with less money would likely have a difficult time financially once the divorce is over.

How Does Alimony Work?

If the judge orders alimony, it’s either rendered in the form of a lump sum payment, periodic payments, or a transfer of property. The most common alimony award is periodic alimony. The supported spouse will receive monthly payments in the amount mandated by the judge.

The judge will also set an end date for the spousal support. Here are some of the events that could also contribute to the end of spousal support:

  • Either spouse passes away
  • The supported spouse remarries
  • The supported spouse lives with another partner
  • The paying spouse retires
  • The supported spouse has a boost in income

Although the judge can determine the alimony payments and how long they’ll last, the divorcing parties can also make that decision. The two can come to an agreement regarding the length of time that the alimony will be paid.

However, if they can’t agree, either party has to file a formal motion with the courts requesting alimony. The courts will then set a court date, and the judge will set the terms of the spousal support.

Just keep in mind that if you do decide to request help from the courts, it’ll take more time and money than if you were to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse.

How Is Alimony Calculated?

When it comes to calculating alimony, there are a lot of factors that go into play. Each state has its own laws that dictate the factors that are considered when determining spousal support payments. Here are some of the most common considerations:

  • The reasonable expenses needed for each spouse
  • The amount of income that each individual could reasonably earn monthly
  • If alimony could allow for each person to uphold the lifestyle they had before the split

Overall, if there aren’t enough earnings to make sure that each party can maintain their level of living, then the judge will find a way for each spouse to share their financial burdens equally.

For example, if a husband files for divorce and he makes $10,000 per month, but his wife is a stay-at-home mom of three children with no income, she’ll likely receive alimony. Depending on the state’s calculating formula , she’s entitled to about $2,000 in child support.

However, if she tells the judge that she won’t have enough to pay for rent and other expenses, then the judge will reevaluate if the husband can afford spousal support.

The judge will subtract the wife’s monthly expenses minus the amount that she receives for child support, and that number will equal the amount that she gets for alimony.

Enforcing Spousal Support Payments

The paying spouse has to start sending alimony as soon as it’s due. Usually, that can be as soon as the divorce order is signed by the judge. For spouses who refuse to pay alimony, they could be held in contempt of court .

That means that the supported spouse can file a motion against them for refusing to pay. The court will then set a hearing to figure out why the payments aren’t being made. The family court system uses a variety of means to enforce alimony. A spouse that refuses to pay could face penalties and fines for not making their spousal support payments.

The courts can also force the paying spouse to retroactively pay back installments that they’ve missed.

If you need help with your divorce, check out posmantier law .

Understanding Alimony

Hopefully the content in this article helped you to get the answer to the question, “What is alimony?” If you believe that you’d benefit from spousal support payments, have a conversation with your ex-spouse. If that’s not possible, then petition the courts.

If you learned anything from this content, check out more of our website. We have a variety of helpful topics for you to enjoy.

Permanent, temporary, lump-sum, rehabilitative, and reimbursement are all types of alimony that may apply to you during a divorce.

by Beverly Rice
updated September 03, 2020 · 5 min read

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

While divorce may end a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily end the obligations of one spouse to another. Oftentimes, one spouse is able to receive spousal support, or alimony, to help them establish a new, post-divorce life.

What Is Alimony?

Spousal support, or alimony, is financial assistance determined by a divorce decree. This support recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage, and helps the recipient achieve financial independence.

Alimony is available only to those who were legally married, and rules vary by state.

The court will award financial assistance based on factors, such as:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Each person’s earning capacity
  • Contribution to household or career
  • Physical health of the recipient

Alimony may be paid in one lump sum or on a temporary or permanent basis. The court typically will consider the circumstances of each partner when deciding on how much and how long assistance is needed.

What Is Rehabilitative Alimony?

Rehabilitative alimony is granted for a specified time period. It provides the recipient with the funds to obtain the job skills and education needed for him or her to become self-sufficient. This type of spousal support is also available to the stay-at-home parent who takes care of the children.

Although the court order or agreement specifies a duration for rehabilitative support payments, this alimony can be reviewed at the end of a predetermined period. The court or divorcing parties must include a review provision in the agreement. The paying spouse has the right to stipulate in the agreement that there be no review. However, the court can override the payor’s wishes and continue the support due to hardships such as the illness or incapacity.

What Is Lump-Sum Alimony?

Lump-sum spousal support a one-time, fixed payment and is often granted in lieu of a property settlement. The amount awarded is equal to the total of future monthly payments.

What Is Permanent Alimony?

Permanent spousal support continues until the recipient remarries or either payor or payee dies. Some states will terminate or suspend permanent support if the recipient cohabitates with another partner. In this case, the court would consider whether the third-party was providing support for the recipient and whether the living situation was similar to a remarriage.

Permanent alimony payments may be adjusted due to changes in circumstances such as the recipient getting a better-paying job, receiving a major income source (inheritance, winning the lottery), or incurring medical expenses not covered by insurance.

Payments are also subject to change if the paying spouse either suffers a loss or reduction in income or retires. It is not a good idea for the payor to deliberately try to become a pauper. The court will review the situation to determine whether the financial downturn was in good faith and may deny a reduction in alimony request.

What Is Reimbursement Alimony?

The dutiful spouse who works full time to put her partner through school and is divorced shortly after is a candidate for reimbursement alimony. As the name implies, this support reimburses one spouse for expenses incurred in helping the other complete an education or training program. Whether the recipient needs the money is irrelevant. Reimbursement alimony is payback for providing support during the payor’s time in school.

A court may also award the recipient a substantial amount of marital property as compensation. However, in reimbursement cases, the couple usually has not accumulated much property so a financial award is given instead. Reimbursement alimony can be paid in one lump sum or over a period of time.

What Is Temporary Alimony?

Temporary alimony is sometimes paid when a couple separates but the divorce is not final. The parties execute a written marital separation agreement stipulating how much and when payment will be made. The agreement does not have to filed in court; if it is, the judge can decide whether the amount of temporary alimony is fair or if either party was coerced into signing the contract.

As with other forms of alimony, temporary spousal support can be adjusted. If the support agreement was not filed in court, the couple may set up a new payment plan themselves. A judge must order changes to agreements filed in court.

Alimony and Tax Issues

Alimony takes a bite out of the payor’s wallet but also provides them with a tax deduction. For the recipient, spousal support is considered income and is therefore taxed as such. When considering accepting a lump-sum alimony, beware that you could owe a significant amount of taxes on such a large payout. Consult a tax professional to help determine your best option.

Terminating Alimony

Death of either spouse or remarriage of the recipient are the most common reasons for terminating spousal support. Some states allow for the reduction, suspension, or termination of alimony if the recipient lives with another person in a romantic relationship.

The payor must provide the court with evidence that the payee lives with another party and are generally recognized as a couple. Many states now recognize same-sex, as well as heterosexual, cohabitation. Other reasons for termination include the recipient becoming self-supporting through employment or receipt of other financial support.

The payor may petition the court to terminate alimony by providing evidence a condition (ex: cohabitation) exists that would automatically terminate support payments. Or, the payor could prove that the continuation of alimony would be a financial hardship or unfair treatment. Proving hardship or unfairness is not easy; the court looks for circumstances that prevent the payor from maintaining a normal standard of living.

Once spousal support is terminated, it cannot be reinstated.

If the recipient desires an extension of alimony, he or she must request a modification before the agreement expires. If the payor proves one of the automatic termination conditions, support ceases permanently.

Alimony Laws Vary by State

Spousal support laws vary among states. Most states have cut back on awarding permanent alimony in favor of temporary or rehabilitative spousal support to encourage the recipient to become self-sufficient. Recipients may also get temporary support if they are the principal caregiver of the couple’s children.

Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington are more likely to grant the recipient life-long support payments. Cases involving long marriages where one partner earned much less than the other are most likely to be awarded permanent alimony.

States may limit or deny spousal support if the recipient was the cause of the breakup. Georgia and North Carolina see adultery, abandonment, and marital misconduct as grounds for limiting or denying alimony. Most states, however, recognize no-fault divorce and do not consider who’s to blame when awarding spousal support.

View video: Spousal Support (Alimony)

What is spousal support?

A monthly payment of money made from one spouse to the other. Some people call this alimony, but in Alaska it is called spousal support. The court may order spousal support to be paid before the divorce is final, after the divorce, or both. But usually, the court orders spousal support for a specific purpose and a limited amount of time.

Under what circumstances could I get spousal support?

The court will decide if you need it and whether it is fair. The court looks at many factors for both you and your ex that include:

  • how long you were married
  • your age and health
  • how much money you can make
  • how long you went to school
  • what are your work skills
  • how much work experience you have
  • if you worked during the marriage
  • if you took care of the kids
  • if you unreasonably used up marital money
  • how the property and debt is divided, and
  • other relevant factors.

What kinds of spousal support are there?

There are two kinds: “rehabilitation support” or “reorientation support.”

Rehabilitation Support
Rehabilitation support is the money that pays for job training or school. The idea is that you will use the money to get skills to work or move up in your job. If you do not use the money for school, the court can take it away. You usually need to tell the court what your work goal is, how the school or training program meets that goal, and how long it will take to finish the program. You can get rehabilitation support for the reasonable time it takes to finish a degree program. This is usually for up to four years.

Reorientation Support
Reorientation support is the money that helps you get used to living on less money than when you were married. This money is paid for a short period, usually a year or less, and usually when the division of marital property does not meet one party’s needs. For example, reorientation support may give a party temporary money while he waits to sell the house.

Do spousal support awards last forever?

Generally not. In most cases support is for a specific amount of time. Rehabilitation support usually lasts for the time it will take complete school or job training. Reorientation support usually lasts for one year at most.

Can a court order both types of support?

Yes, but it depends on the facts in each case.

How do I get spousal support?

You need to ask for it in your complaint. You can make this request in the “other” section of the FLSHC divorce complaint.

However, if you want to ask the court for some support before your divorce is final, you must ALSO file a motion asking for “Interim Spousal Support.” Choose one of the two options for forms below depending on whether you also are asking for interim orders about children:

  • Motion and Affidavit for Interim Orders – No Children, SHC-1105 Word | PDF
  • Financial Declaration, DR 250
  • Order on Interim Orders – No Children, SHC-1107 Word | PDF
  • NOTE: If you are filing at the same time as your complaint to start the case, you also need to file:
    • Notice of Motion, SHC-1630 Word | PDF
  • Motion and Affidavit for Interim Orders – No Children, SHC-1100 Word | PDF
  • Financial Declaration, DR 250
  • Order on Interim Orders – No Children, SHC-1102 Word | PDF
  • NOTE: If you are filing at the same time as your complaint to start the case, you also need to file:
    • Notice of Motion, SHC-1630 Word | PDF

Rehabilitation Support
For rehabilitation support, you must state your work goal, what school you plan to go to, and how long you expect to be in school. The court might want to know how much the program will cost and see your class schedule to show you are signed up. This type of support usually lasts for the time it takes to finish school or up to four years. If you do not use the money to go to school, your ex can go back to court and ask to stop paying you.

Reorientation Support
If you want reorientation support, you need to show why the property division will not meet your needs. Things to think about are:

  • whether your spouse makes a lot more money than you
  • whether you can’t work
  • whether you haven’t worked in a long time, or
  • whether you took care of the kids instead of working outside the home.

This type of support usually lasts for a year at the most. The court doesn’t usually give reorientation support but may when the property division doesn’t meet a party’s needs.

If you have questions about how motions work, please see our motion page for more information.

Can I change a spousal support order?

The court usually orders spousal support for a specific length of time and purpose. If you want the court to change or no longer require spousal support, you can file:

  • Request to Modify Order or Decree Concerning Spousal Maintenance or Property Allocation, DR-735 [Fill-In PDF]

Many same-sex couples ask us to explain how same sex spousal alimony works in New Jersey. They want to know whether the rules about how much same sex spousal maintenance might be and how long same sex divorce spousal support might be paid are the same as for heterosexual couples.

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

In New Jersey, to determine your rights to same sex spousal alimony , we first need to know the nature of your same sex relationship. Under the New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act, certain couples are granted certain rights such as the right to make health care decisions, be on the partner’s health insurance plan, and receive tax exemptions. But only the following persons qualify for a domestic partnership:

  1. same-sex and opposite-sex couples who have reached the age of 62,
  2. couples younger than that who entered a domestic partnership before the law was revised in February 2007,
  3. and couples who have entered a domestic partnership or relationship status with similar rights and obligations outside of New Jersey.

If you are in a domestic partnership, there is no legal right to same sex divorce alimony , spousal support or maintenance.

A New Jersey civil union automatically includes you in the myriad legal rights and responsibilities under state law conferred on a married couple. In the words of the civil union legislation, a New Jersey civil union grants “all of the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under the law, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage.” This includes rights to family leave benefits, rights relating to joint ownership of property, rights relating to insurance, health and pension benefits, rights relating to state public assistance benefits, and rights to spousal support, maintenance and alimony.

If you are a married couple, the same sex divorce spousal support , maintenance and alimony laws apply to you just as they would with a heterosexual couple. In New Jersey, a court can award a same sex couple different types of alimony including open durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony. In making an award of same sex couple sposual alimony or support, the court has to consider the following factors:

(1)The actual need and ability of the parties to pay alimony;

(2)The duration of the same sex marriage or civil union;

(3)The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;

(4)The standard of living established in the same sex marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither party having a greater entitlement to that standard of living than the other;

(5)The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;

(6)The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking same sex spousal support, maintenance or alimony;

(7)The parental responsibilities for the children of the same sex marriage or civil union;

(8)The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking spousal support, maintenance or alimony to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;

(9)The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the same sex marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;

(10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;

(11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;

(12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any spousal support, maintenance or alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;

(13) The nature, amount, and length of temporary support paid during the divorce litigation, if any; and

(14) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

Given these 14 statutory factors requiring consideration when seeking same sex divorce spousal support , maintenance or alimony, it is vitally important to speak with an experienced family law attorney to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family. Call us today for a consultation to understand your rights in same sex divorce alimony .

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

If your spouse is the primary earner, you’re probably very concerned about how you’re going to make ends meet after your divorce. Can you afford to stay in the house? Can you cover all of your bills? Will you have to get another job?

In fact, it’s one of the most common questions I get – is there alimony in Ohio? Am I eligible? How much spousal support will I get? How long will I get it for?

It’s also one of the most emotionally charged topics we deal with in divorce. For the one who needs alimony, they are depending on it to maintain their standard of living. On the flip side, do you really want to depend on your ex after your divorce is final?

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

If you are the primary earner, you’re probably wondering if you’ll have to pay spousal support. If so, how much and for how long? It would be easy to say, “The state provides a simple calculation.” In Ohio, that isn’t the case. Because there is no formula, it’s a very gray area that is negotiated in every case.

First off, what is spousal support (or alimony)?

Spousal support is financial support paid from one spouse to the other. It’s also called spousal maintenance or alimony. We use the words interchangeably in this post. (Note: There are some states in which these words are not interchangeable. For example, in Pennsylvania spousal support refers to temporary support while the divorce is in process. Alimony refers to the financial support paid from one spouse to the other after the divorce is final.)

Either the husband or the wife can be ordered to pay it but it’s not always included in the divorce settlement. In fact, in some states, it’s very uncommon. As with other divorce laws, the way that spousal support is determined varies from state to state and even varies by local jurisdiction.

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

Divorce Alimony Rules in Ohio

The factors contributing to the determination of spousal support in Ohio are as follows:

  • income of the parties
  • relative earnings power of the parties
  • age and emotional/physical/mental health
  • retirement benefits of the parties
  • how long the parties were married
  • ability to work outside the home when child care is necessary
  • the standard of living established during the marriage
  • educational attainment of each of the parties
  • overall, financial picture (assets/liabilities)
  • the contribution of each party toward the other’s education and/or professional achievements
  • time and expense for the party seeking spousal support to acquire necessary skills/education to be employable
  • tax impact of spousal support
  • lost income production capacity of either party due to party’s marital responsibilities
  • any other fact that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable

You can see that there are a lot of factors involved in awarding an amount. Your divorce financial analyst can help you to determine what would be a reasonable request.

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

Common Questions About Alimony in Ohio

How long does spousal support last in Ohio?

Again, it depends. According to the divorce alimony rules in Ohio, all of the factors listed above are considered when determining how long one will receive support. It is best to consult with an attorney regarding what they see in your local court. Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum or over time. It can even be permanent in some areas. These laws do change, though, so again, I recommend speaking to your local family law attorney.

Can spousal support change after it’s awarded?

According to the divorce alimony rules in Ohio, the short answer is maybe. The ability to modify to spousal support is negotiated just like the amount and duration. In many cases, spousal support is modifiable if there is a change in circumstances. If you want to have it modified, you’ll have to file paperwork with the court.

This a concern that often comes up when I’m facilitating a mediation. The fact of the matter is that life changes and we really don’t know what the future will hold. When I’m doing divorce financial planning work with clients, I discuss ways to protect spousal support so that my clients don’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll have it in the future.

Can I get spousal support before my divorce is finalized?

You may be eligible for temporary support prior to finalizing your divorce. If you are going through mediation to settle your case then you can discuss the issue up in mediation. If you’re going through the court, you can petition the court for temporary support. That doesn’t mean that it will be awarded but it can be.

Is spousal support taxable?

In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated the tax deduction for those paying spousal support. As a result, for divorces finalized after December 31, 2018 spousal support is no longer taxable to the recipient. If your divorce was final prior to the end of 2018, the spousal support is still taxable to the recipient and deductible for the payor.

How to receive alimony or spousal support before your divorce

If there’s no calculator, how is spousal support determined if my case goes to trial?

If your case goes to trial, the judge has quite a bit of discretion regarding if spousal support will be awarded. The judge can also determine how much, how long, and whether or not it will be modifiable. An attorney who regularly practices family law in your local court will be best able to advise you on what to expect. That said, you really never know. You give up any control you had when your case goes to trial.

That’s why I am such a proponent of mediation. Using mediation to negotiate your settlement gives you the greatest control over the process. When you are in mediation, you and your soon-to-be-ex can work together to determine what you consider fair.

For examples of some of the settlements I’ve seen when facilitating mediation, visit my blog on the topic:

More questions?

For these and other questions, contact me to schedule a strategy session. I am here to support you throughout the divorce process. Divorce is hard. Separating your finances does not have to be.

Filing for a divorce can be one of the most emotionally draining experiences of your life. The process can become even more daunting when your financial dependency is factored into the situation.

That’s where spousal support can help.

The process to receive spousal support or alimony can take a variety of routes. In situations where the couple is amicable, the procedure can be carried out in a relatively simpler way under proper legal guidance. But if the divorce is contentious, the person seeking alimony has to fight tooth and nail to get their fair share of financial support through the available legal framework.

At Hilliard & Swartz , our seasoned divorce attorneys hold extensive experience in handling spousal support cases. Whether you need to draw up a legal agreement to finalize your alimony arrangement or if you have to prove your claim in court, our team can help you through the intricacies of the process.

But before you move forward with getting personalized legal consultation on your case, you might be interested in learning the basic information about spousal support. The following details can help you know exactly how the process works and how you can benefit from it.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony or spousal support’s main goal is to minimize the financial disruption that an unemployed or lower-wage-earning spouse may experience after their divorce.

The financial support structure exists to help those spouses whose marriage may have impacted their current financial status. For instance, if a person chose to build a family with their spouse over developing a professional career, they may have ended up with a low-salary job or no career at all. With alimony, these individuals can receive the financial support they need after their marriage has ended. Apart from the earning status of both spouses, the alimony payment depends upon various factors such as the duration of the marriage.

In some cases, the couple may reach an arrangement by themselves, where the employed or higher-wage-earning spouse may agree to pay a long-term or short-term alimony for the other’s expenses.

But there can be scenarios where the alimony claim from one spouse is argued by the other. In such situations, a court can decide whether to award the alimony to the spouse in question.

As a result, when followed through a proper channel, a couple may either mutually decide the details of alimony or adhere to the court’s orders. But in both cases, alimony remains a critical financial support framework for those whose lifestyle or finances are negatively affected by the divorce.

Types of Alimony

While the terms spousal support and alimony are interchangeable, not every type of alimony is the same. There are various types of alimony in place that cater to specific situations and financial arrangements.

To be precise, there are 5 different types of alimony that include the following spousal support options.

Temporary spousal support. As the name suggests, this type of alimony is temporary and only applies when a couple is going through divorce proceedings. The alimony is obtained by the unemployed or lower-wage-earning spouse, with the stipend typically stopping after the divorce is finalized. At that time, a new claim for different alimony payments can be entertained by the former spouses or the court.

Permanent Spousal Support. This alimony means that the receiving spouse can continue obtaining their spousal support until their marriage to someone else or the spouses’ death. This is the most popular type of spousal support, and comes with the option of flexibility or a revised amount based upon issues such as an injury of either of the spouses.

Rehabilitative Spousal Support. This alimony is meant to support those former spouses whose work or skill set development is dependent on financial support from their ex-spouse. This type of alimony stops after a certain period, but it remains active during instances such as the spouse attending college or staying at home to take care of the kids.

Reimbursement Spousal Support. This type of alimony kicks in if the paying spouse had received any other financial aid throughout their marriage. In such cases, this financial support is awarded for making up for the reimbursement through monthly or one-time payments.

Lump-sum alimony. This type of alimony isn’t as widely known as a monthly stipend. But it still exists and mainly caters to couples who have high-value assets or earnings in place. This is also helpful for those couples who either do not want to wait for a monthly stipend or don’t want to deal with issues such as remarriage stopping the alimony payments.

Laws for Alimony Very From State To State

It is important to remember that state laws for divorce as well as alimony can change with the jurisdiction. For instance, some states may require you to be married for a certain period before you can request alimony.

That is why it’s imperative that you reach out to specialized attorneys who have a firm grasp of providing legal representation within your specific state.

This makes sure that you can proceed after considering all available options. It also ensures that you do not accept an alimony award from a mutual discussion where the offered amount is lower than what you may get after a legal assessment.

Due to these reasons, it has become crucial that you speak to experienced divorce attorneys who could help you obtain your goals and seek a proper financial support method.

How We Can Help With Your Unique Situation

At Hilliard & Swartz, LLP , our expansive team of divorce attorneys can ensure that we lead you through the complicated process with overall simplicity. Regardless of how unique your situation might be, our lawyers can assess it promptly and advise you on the best possible course of option.

Ensure that you have strong legal representation by your side.

Don’t hesitate to contact us today. We will be here to understand your specialized requirements and assist you through the intricate process with the utmost ease.

Reach out to us if you have questions or concerns regarding your overall situation.

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This article clarifies information provided in IRS Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families for the repeal of deduction for alimony payments under the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017.

Alimony or separation payments paid to a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation agreement, such as a divorce decree, a separate maintenance decree, or a written separation agreement, may be alimony for federal tax purposes. Alimony or separation payments are deductible if the taxpayer is the payer spouse. Receiving spouses must include the alimony or separation payments in their income.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible from the income of the payer spouse, or includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed after Dec. 31, 2018.

This also applies to a divorce or separation agreement executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018, and modified after December 31, 2018, as long as the modification:

  • changes the terms of the alimony or separate maintenance payments; and
  • states that the alimony or separate maintenance payments are not deductible by the payer spouse or includable in the income of the receiving spouse.

On the other hand, generally alimony or separate maintenance payments are deductible from the income of the payer spouse and includable in the income of the receiving spouse, if made under a divorce or separation agreement executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018, even if the agreement was modified after December 31, 2018, so long as the modification is not one described in the preceding paragraph.

Learn About Alimony Or Spousal Support Laws In Georgia

Eligibility For Spousal Support

Spousal support in Georgia is the equivalent to what is traditionally called alimony. Spousal support is an item separate from child support.

Alimony in Georgia is not a guaranteed part of the your divorce. Circumstances such as adultery or abandonment nullify the spouses rights to request spousal support. Typically spousal support is awarded for a spouse ending a long term marriage (10+ years) where one spouse has minimal income earning potential.

Eligibility Factors For Spousal Support

  • Living standards while living together
  • Length of time married
  • Receiving spouse’s age, earning potential, physical condition
  • Paying spouse’s earning capacity, financial situation, debts
  • Contributions to the marriage of value but not income producing
  • Calculating Spousal Support Amounts

Spousal support payments are calculated and awarded by the court. There are no set formulas for calculating spousal support in Georgia.The financial support calculation process could be considered to be subjective and arbitrary. The basis for any award of support (alimony) is generally based on “the needs of one spouse” and “the ability to pay by the other spouse”. See the factors listed on this page under eligibility.

Temporary Spousal Support

Temporary support is often awarded while a divorce process is being managed. This could be especially important when a spouse has no income source and will be living alone. Temporary support payments may be ordered to be paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Permanent Spousal Support

Permanent support is a misnomer as this is usually awarded for only a limited duration of time. It is almost a certainty that spousal support will be for a limited period of time. The general thought is that this money is provided for a period of time that allows the spouse to become self sufficient. Even if long term support is awarded the amount may be reduced through a support modification request.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last

The duration of support payments varies. It may be time based such as 1/3 the length of the marriage, or based on the amount of time it may take the receiving spouse to develop an income stream. Paying support can end abruptly through a divorce modification process if the paying spouse can prove the situation of the receiving spouse has dramatically improved (i.e., wins a lottery, receives a large inheritance, new marriage, etc.) The person paying support may be able to modify the amount of monthly payments by proving chronic financial hardship.

Spousal Support Modifications

Support Modification is a hot topic throughout the time period where support payments are required. Often, a person’s income changes substantially which directly impacts the “need for” or “ability to pay” financial support. If this is the case in your life you will be interested in our divorce modification services.

Contempt For Non-Payment Of Support

Failure to pay any court mandated support is cause for arrest on charges of contempt of court. It is not uncommon for a support payment to be late however; habitual payment problems or deliberate refusal to pay can result in jail time or garnishment of wages.

For more information on alimony or spousal support in Georgia you should contact us to arrange for a consultation with an attorney. You may also want to read more online about alimony laws in Georgia.

The purpose of spousal maintenance in Texas (court-ordered alimony) is to provide temporary and rehabilitative support for a spouse after a divorce. The higher-income spouse usually wants to avoid it and the lower-income spouse believes they really need it. Fortunately for everyone involved, there are specific eligibility requirements that help sort it out fairly.

Establishing Eligibility

To be eligible for spousal support the spouse asking for it must prove that they are 1) the spouse, 2) lacks sufficient property to provide for minimum reasonable needs, and 3) has met one of the four statutory bases for spousal maintenance (i.e., ten-year marriage, family violence, disabled spouse, or disabled child).

Minimum Reasonable Needs

The Texas Family Code does not define “minimum reasonable needs” which is often a point of contention in a spousal maintenance fight. It is a fact-specific inquiry decided on a case-by-case basis. Courts have generally considered a spouse’s ability to pay the following expenses as evidence of meeting the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs:

  • mortgage or rent payments
  • property taxes
  • utility bills
  • auto payments
  • home, medical, and auto insurance
  • credit union dues
  • gas
  • groceries
  • credit cards
  • uncovered medical expenses
  • drugs and medicine
  • clothing
  • child care
  • transportation costs

Generally, the courts will award spousal maintenance on minimum reasonable needs – not necessarily on the standard of living before the divorce nor minimum wage laws.

Insufficient Property

To determine if a spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for minimum reasonable needs, courts consider the spouse’s monthly income, the value of any income-producing property, the value of the spouse’s separate property, and the value of the property awarded to the spouse through the court’s division of the marital estate.

But it not always so straight-forward. For example, just because the spouse seeking spousal maintenance has access to valuable property, does not mean the court will consider that as an ability to meet minimum reasonable needs. An Amarillo Appeals Court held that the wife was not required to liquidate $250,000 worth of gold to meet her minimum reasonable needs.

Claim Based On 10-Years of Marriage + Inability to Earn Sufficient Income

The spouse seeking spousal maintenance just needs to establish that they have been married for 10 years or longer measured from the date of marriage to the date of trial.

The spouse also needs to establish that they lack the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Some current factors the court will consider are the length of time the spouse has been out of the workforce, education level, and employment skills. Courts generally will not focus on any future ability to earn sufficient income if the spouse were to have additional training or education.

But the spouse seeking spousal maintenance cannot just simply claim to be unable to earn sufficient income. They will need to establish that they have exercised diligence in either (1) earning sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs or (2) developing the necessary skills to provide for their minimum reasonable needs during a period of separation and during the time the divorce is pending.

Claim Based on Family Violence

A spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance if they can prove the other spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for a criminal offense that constituted an act of family violence as defined by the Texas Family Code – even if the marriage was less than 10 years in length. The violence must have been committed during the marriage and either (1) within the two years before the divorce was filed or (2) while the divorce was pending.

Claim Based on Spouse’s Disability + Inability to Earn Sufficient Income

In addition to proving an inability to earn sufficient income as explained above, a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance if they show that they suffer from an incapacitating physical or mental disability – even if the marriage was less than 10 years in length.

The disability must show that the disability is incapacitating to the point that it prevents them from earning a sufficient income to meet their minimum reasonable needs. Examples meeting that criteria:

  • Wife suffered from severe back problems, osteoporosis, and a mass on her hip; steroid shots for her back and brittle bones caused by the osteoporosis prevented her from working.
  • Husband suffered from cerebral aneurysm, and although he was able to care for children and do household chores, his disability prevented him from returning to his former job.
  • Wife suffered from anxiety and neuromuscular disorder of the intestinal tract resulting in sudden onset of severe abdominal pain requiring debilitating nerve-block injections.
  • Wife suffered from brain damage, depression, and deteriorating disc in her lower back; she was able to cook, clean, and drive only in nonstressful environments.
  • Wife suffered from a “near nervous breakdown,” meniscus tear in her knee, and breast cancer, the last two of which required future surgeries.

But in an example where the court found that the disability was not incapacitating, the wife suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, but she was able to drive, cook, clean, and do other household chores.

Claim Based on Child’s Disability + Inability to Earn Sufficient Income

In addition to proving an inability to earn sufficient income as explained above, a spouse is eligible to receive spousal maintenance if they show that they are custody of a child of the marriage who is disabled – even if the marriage was less than 10 years in length.

Regardless of the child’s age, the child must have a physical or mental disability that requires substantial care and personal supervision that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide minimum reasonable needs.


If you’re anticipating a divorce might be in your future, it is important to consider whether spousal maintenance will become an issue. Call attorney Vince Handler today for a free personal consultation.