Alimony laws differ from state to state and many factors can affect the process. Judges have the most authority as to when alimony is granted and when it is not. Most state laws require judges to consider circumstances such as standard of living during marriage, the characteristics of each individual’s income and earning capabilities upon divorce, the age and health of each individual, and the need for or ability to pay alimony. Alimony will cover things like food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and other household expenses. Judges also have latitude in setting the amount awarded.
How long alimony payments last is a matter that is still evolving in many states. It varies with most jurisdictions terminating payments when the receiver remarries or begins living with a member of the opposite sex. In those cases where the spouse paying alimony dies also obviously terminate the payments. Depending on the state of jurisdiction and the particular situation involved, alimony can sometimes be modified. Alimony is tax deductible for the payer and taxable income for the one receiving payment.
The laws surrounding alimony have changed to keep up with the changes in American society and several states have moved to press for changes in their laws requiring ex-husbands to pay alimony indefinitely. Changes in society are now placing more emphasis on an ex-spouse’s habitation and economic circumstances as primary factors in alimony awards. Lifetime alimony awards after a brief marriage are obviously not fair and are not relevant to the way Americans live today. Laws that limit the amounts and lengths of alimony might be more realistic.
The rules governing modification of alimony vary widely from state to state and can be quite complex and if a divorce settlement agreement states that alimony cannot be modified, most courts will be hesitant to do so. When alimony is awarded based on one spouse’s need for support, the chances of modification are a bit better. The party seeking modification will need to show a valid change in circumstances in order for the court to determine whether a modification is warranted. Once alimony has been terminated it usually cannot be reinstated however. Although alimony awards are difficult to modify, it is possible with legitimate reason in many jurisdictions now. Those considering modifying an alimony award should research local rules and consult a legal adviser or attorney to determine their best course of action.
Types of Alimony:
* Separation alimony is awarded when one spouse cannot support themselves during a period of separation and is paid until that couple reconciles or ultimately gets divorced.
* Rehabilitative alimony is awarded when one spouse cannot support themselves, but lasts only until that spouse can care for themselves and any children that might be involved.
* Permanent alimony continues until one spouse dies or until the recipient gets re-married or begins living with someone else.
* Lump-sum alimony is a single alimony payment instead of ongoing support.
* Reimbursement alimony is awarded to compensate for sacrifices in time or in employment opportunities in order to permit the other spouse to complete educational or work-related programs that enable them to earn a higher income.