Divorce ends a marriage but is not an end to one spouse’s obligations towards the other. Often, one spouse receives alimony or spousal support, which helps them establish post-divorce life.
What is spousal support or alimony?
It is financial assistance that a divorce decree determines. The support identifies one partner’s contribution towards the marriage and helps the recipient spouse attain financial independence. Support is available to those couples legally married. However, the rules differ from one state to another. For example, in Indiana and Texas, the payments are for only three years, while in Utah, the support will last as long as marriage did.
It is the judge that determines financial assistance terms and conditions based on –
- The couple’s marriage duration
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- Recipient’s physical health
- Contribution towards career or household
- Age of parties
- Needs-based on an established standard of living during the marriage
- Marriage jurisdiction
Alimony is paid on a lump sum or permanent or temporary basis. Generally, the court considers each partner’s circumstances while determining the alimony amount and duration.
Marriage laws differ from one state to another.
In Illinois, the judges consider multiple aspects while determining spousal maintenance. There are specific conditions that can end the spousal support like expiry of independent alimony contract or either party dies or receiving party marries again. The FedorKozlov, P.C, law firm are experienced attorneys that help clients gain fair spousal support. Arlington Heights spousal support lawyers specialize in family law matters besides property split, divorce, spousal support, etc.
Different types of spousal support
It is a financial help paid during separation but before a divorce. A written marital separation agreement is executed with conditions on the amount to be paid and a payment schedule. The agreement is not filed in court for the judge to determine the fairness of the temporary alimony amount or whether anyone was pressurized in signing the agreement. Temporary spousal support is adjustable. The couples can set a new payment plan because the court was not involved there is no need to ask permission for making the changes.
It is a one-time fixed amount paid against spousal support. It is allowed as a replacement for property settlement. The lump-sum amount is equivalent to total future monthly payments.
It is allowed for a specific time. The recipient can use the alimony to attain the education and job skills necessary to become self-sufficient. Stay-at-home parents take care of the kids, so they are also eligible for rehabilitative alimony. The court decree specifies rehabilitative support payment duration, so the involved parties can review it at the end of the prearranged period.
The divorcing couples or the court must include a review rider in the contract. The paying partner has the privilege to deny a review clause in the agreement. Nevertheless, the judge can override paying partner’s wishes and continue spousal support because of incapacity or chronic illness issues.
If the pleading spouse has valid reasons for award extension then the court will most probably allow the request. For example, if a couple’s marriage lasted for three years without kids then some states allow extension for a warranted period. The petitioning partner needs to articulate a justifiable request. If one partner worked more than the 8 to 9 hours job like an extra part-time, they will need to make a reasonable request to attain a necessary extension.
This kind of spousal support continues till the payee dies or the recipient remarries. Some states suspend or terminate permanent alimony if the receiving partner cohabitates with some other person. The court considers whether 3rd party was offering support to the recipient and the living situation was the same before remarriage.
The amount can be changed because of alterations in situations like the recipient got a better paying job or received a good income source from inheritance or won a lottery or incurred medical expense that was not insured. The alimony amount can even change if the payee suffers income loss or reduction or retires.
The payee must not become a pauper deliberately because the court evaluates the situation before deciding whether to allow changes. If the situation was found to be not in good faith the reduction in alimony amount request is denied.
A committed spouse worked hard to ensure that his/her partner completes school or college but is soon divorced can become eligible for reimbursement alimony. This spousal support type repays the spouse that was paying for the other partner’s training program. It doesn’t matter if the recipient needs the cash or not.
Reimbursement alimony is a reward for offering support to the payor for completing his/her education. The judge even awards the recipient a significant amount of marital assets as reimbursement. The compensation can be paid in lump sum or installments.
Alimony & tax
Alimony may dent the payors bank account but even offers a tax deduction. Alternatively, spousal support money is regarded as an income for the recipient, so is subject to tax. While considering lump sum alimony the recipient must be aware that they can owe a considerable tax amount, especially if the payout is huge.
When either spouse dies or the recipient remarries, it is time to terminate the spousal support. If the recipient is in a romantic relationship with another person, the payee has to offer evidence in court. Several states recognize heterosexual and same-sex cohabitation. The payor will need to file a petition for terminating alimony offering evidence that cohabitation exists or can prove that alimony continuation can be unfair treatment.
Proving unfairness or hardship is difficult. The judge looks for situations that prevent the payee from living a normal life. Termination can also be due to the recipient becoming employed or other financial support or self-supporting.
If the recipient wants an alimony extension then a request for changes has to be filed before the contract expires. If the payee proves the termination conditions given above, spousal support permanently ceases.
Nonpayment of spousal support can induce imprisonment, property seizure; wage garnishments, real property lien, etc. therefore if nonpayment is because of inability then file an advanced petition with a valid argument for award modification.