Alimony, Maintenance, Spousal Support

U.S. Divorce Law Center





Alimony, Maintenance and Spousal Support Laws in the U.S. Copyright HG.org

Alimony, Maintenance, Spousal Support

Alimony, Maintenance, or Spousal Support is money paid from one spouse to the other for the purpose of supporting the spouse with fewer financial resources. A court awards support on the basis of one spouse’s need or entitlement and the other spouse’s ability to pay.

Long term alimony is becoming less common with the advent and increasingly common instance of two income earners in a marriage. In today’s society, it is now far less common for one spouse to be completely financially dependent on another spouse.


Rehabilitative Support

The most common type of spousal support awarded is rehabilitative support, which is awarded for a finite period to allow the spouse with fewer financial resources to adjust and establish him/herself; perhaps by obtaining an education or job training, or returning to school to complete a degree, in order to become self-supporting.

This type of support is designed to make up for the disadvantage experienced by a spouse who may have left a job or didn’t pursue a career in order to help the other spouse’s career or to raise children and assume family duties. Rehabilitative support is typically only awarded for up to five years.

Some of the typical criteria courts use when considering rehabilitative alimony include the following:
  • Length of the marriage;
  • Age of recipient spouse;
  • Earning capabilities of recipient spouse;
  • Length of recipient spouse’s absence from job market; and
  • Time and expense necessary to educate and train recipient spouse.
Some courts also require an outline of the steps the spouse requesting support will take to achieve self-sufficiency.

Permanent Support

Although far less common, in certain situations, permanent or long-term support is still awarded. If a spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to age, health or disability, a court may award permanent support. When considering this type of support, courts often review the same factors applied when dividing property.

This type of support can end if the recipient spouse remarries or cohabitates. It may also be modified if there is an applicable change in circumstances.

Alimony, Maintenance and Spousal Support Laws by State

Laws related to awarding support to one spouse by the other and determining the type, amount and length of time of the award vary from state to state. The following links provide general overviews of individual states' spousal support laws.


Alimony Articles

  • How Can I Get Divorced in One State When My Spouse Lives in Another State?
    Getting a divorce becomes more complicated when spouses no longer live in the same state. In some situations, a spouse has moved to another state right after the couple recently separated. In other cases, the spouses have continued separate lives in different states for several years. Even if spouses live in different states, they can still get divorced.
  • The Divorce Process: Decide or Have the Decision Made for You
    Decide or have the decision made for you. This phrase applies to pretty much everything in the area of family law. You can’t make any decisions for anyone else, but you can decide how you’re going to approach these challenges. If you don’t decide how you’re going to approach these difficulties, the decision will be made for you.
  • Business Valuation in Connecticut Divorce
    When a previously married couple files for divorce, their property must be equitably distributed between the former spouses. Usually, the courts will follow what is known as an equitable distribution model to ensure fairness to both parties.
  • New Illinois Maintenance Law
    In every Illinois divorce, the family law court decides whether one spouse must pay maintenance, commonly referred to as spousal support, to the other side.
  • Unlawful Provisions in Premarital Agreements
    it is vital that any attorney drafting a prenuptial agreement know about unlawful provisions. Otherwise, a client may later be unhappy if provisions of a premarital agreement, or an entire premarital agreement, is later deemed to be invalid because of the inclusion of unlawful provisions. In addition to the information provided in this article regarding unlawful provisions, any attorney should be careful that they are complying with the laws in their specific jurisdiction.
  • Parenting Time and the Upcoming Holidays
    The holidays can be stressful - add in the fact that you may be going through a divorce or separation. Here are some helpful hints to guide you through the holidays and parenting time in order to make the holidays pleasant for you and especially your children.
  • How Do You Determine Who Owes What Debt?
    Divorce cases are already confusing without trying to figure out how all of the financial obligations are going to be divided between both parties. Many people think that they don’t have to worry about their debts because they can pawn them off on the other party. Just because you can get rid of the spouse, that doesn’t mean your debts are going to disappear as well.
  • Are Disparaging Social Media Remarks by an Ex Protected by the First Amendment?
    In 2010, Steve Nash, a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, filed for dissolution of his marriage to Alejandra Nash. Nash v. Nash, 307 P.3d 40 (Az. Ct. App. 2013). The parties were able to the resolve custody and parenting time with their two young children through a joint agreement, but the matter went to trial on the issue of child support. On the day the trial court issued its decree, Mrs. Nash “tweeted” several disparaging remarks pertaining to Mr. Nash.
  • 4 Common Misconceptions About Child Support After Divorce
    We’ve all heard of child support: an ongoing, periodic payment made by the noncustodial parent following the end of marriage. In fact, even in “joint custody” cases, there’s still a custodial parent—who the child spends more time with—and a noncustodial parent, and child support must be transferred. An exception to this would be if both parents earn the same income, pay equal amounts of expenses for the child and have the child the same number of days.
  • Depositions: A Metal Detector in a Landmine Field
    Parties often question the necessity of a deposition in a contested family law case. Versus allowing their attorney to take a necessary deposition, parties often dismiss the idea as a cost savings move or in the blind hope that their case will settle. This is a common mistake for parties who will undergo a trial or contested hearing in their family law matter.

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