AUBURN, ALABAMA ALIMONY LAWYERS
One of the most stressful aspects of a divorce is the financial implications. After a marriage dissolves, divorcees often have a hard time making ends meet on their own. This is especially true if one spouse earned all or the majority of income during the marriage, while the other stayed at home all or most of the time to raise the kids. When there is a major income disparity between divorcing spouses, alimony (commonly referred to as spousal maintenance,spousal support, or spousal allowance) is often awarded to help bridge the financial gap.
Alimony is not awarded in all divorce cases, however. There are various factors that the court considers, and the decision whether to award spousal maintenance, how much to award, and for what length of time often comes down to the persuasiveness of the arguments made by the spouses’ legal counsels. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have extensive experience representing clients for divorce and other family legal matters in Alabama. We understand the importance of alimony during a divorce case, and we put our experience to work to advocate forcefully for our clients’ rights and interests.
Types of Spousal Support Available in Alabama
The Alabama courts recognize several different types of alimony:
- Pendente Lite: This is temporary spousal support that is awarded to help the receiving spouse get by financially while the divorce proceedings are ongoing. Although pendente lite is temporary,the amount paid is often used as a basis for establishing an alimony award for after the divorce is finalized.
- Periodic Alimony: The most common type of support, periodic alimony is a specified amount of money paid weekly,biweekly, or monthly over a set period of time.
- Lump Sum Alimony: In a small number of cases, alimony is paid out in one lump sum rather than periodically. Lump sum alimony is often viewed more as a property settlement than a spousal support payment.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This is temporary spousal support that is paid over a specified period of time for the purpose of giving the receiving spouse enough time to re-establish themselves. Rehabilitative alimony is typically used to give the receiving spouse time to find a job or obtain the essential education and training needed to improve employment prospects.
- Permanent Alimony: This is spousal support that is considered permanent and is paid for an indefinite period of time. Permanent alimony is not as common as it used to be, and it is generally reserved for longer-term marriages in which the receiving spouse may have a hard time getting back into the workforce.
When is Alimony Awarded?
Spousal support is awarded in divorce cases where one spouse is financially dependent upon the other. There is no set formula for spousal support in Alabama, and the courts have wide discretion in determining what amount of alimony to award, or whether to award any at all.
Alimony is not always awarded, and the court uses several factors to determine if some type of support would be appropriate. These may include:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, physical, and mental health of each spouse;
- The needs and financial resources of each spouse;
- The ability for each spouse to support themselves;
- The established standard of living during the marriage;
- The receiving spouse’s contribution as a parent and homemaker;
- Any marital misconduct that may have contributed to the divorce;
- Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
Modifying or Terminating an Alimony Award
Alabama law provides for the raising, lowering, or elimination of spousal support if there is a “material change in circumstances” for either party. Alimony payments terminate automatically upon the death of either spouse. If the receiving spouse gets remarried or begins cohabitating with another unmarried adult, this may be grounds to petition the court for termination of alimony unless the divorce settlement specifies that support payments continue even after the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse.
Other potential reasons to modify or terminal spousal support payments may include:
- The payor spouse suffers from a serious health condition;
- The payor spouse loses his/her job;
- The receiving spouse gets a new job;
- Any other significant change in the financial circumstances of either party.
It is important to note that, other than the death of either spouse, you cannot modify or terminate alimony payments on your own. If a payor spouse stops making payments, the receiving spouse can file a contempt petition requesting that the court enforce the payment of support. Even if the ex-spouses come to an informal agreement, the receiving spouse could come back later and claim that they are owed support in arrears. Unless the payor spouse went to court to formalize the new arrangement, there is nothing to back up their claim that the two parties agreed to modify the court-ordered support payment.
The Tax Implications of Alimony Payments
Congress recently eliminated a 75-year-old tax deduction for payor spouses on their alimony payments. As of January 1, 2019, payor spouses can no longer take this deduction, and receiving spouses are no longer required to claim it as income. This is a major change, because payor spouses are typically in a much higher tax bracket than receiving spouses, and prior to these changes, their alimony payment deductions often allowed them to move into a lower tax bracket. In many cases, the elimination of this deduction will lower the combined overall income of the two spouses, leaving less spousal support available for the receiving spouse.
Speak with a Compassionate Opelika Family Law Attorney
During a divorce, the payment of alimony is one of the most important issues that must be resolved. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we understand importance of spousal support, and we work closely with our clients to help ensure that they receive the support they are entitled to, or that they are protected from paying a support award that is unfair and unreasonable. Our experience and in-depth knowledge of Alabama divorce law gives our clients the assurance that they are receiving the skilled legal representation they need and deserve. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718. You may also send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form or stop by our office is Opelika at your convenience.