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

  • Florida Allows Post-Judgment Modifications for Alimony--What You Need To Know
    Alimony, known as spousal support, unless waived by both parties as part of the final judgment, is available in Florida for either spouse as needed during the litigation for a divorce, known as dissolution of marriage, and following the final decree.
  • Divorcing Someone in the Military
    Military lives are different in many ways. Someone who is part of the military can be divorced in our state courts just like everyone else. However, as we all know, there are some differences in military life that could make divorce a bit more complicated.
  • Fathers’ Rights in New Jersey
    When children are involved in a divorce, emotions can often turn an already stressful situation into an unbearable one, especially when both parents want to spend equal time with their children following the divorce. The decision of who will get primary physical custody of the children and which parent receives visitation rights is no longer automatic.
  • Importance of Prenuptial Agreements in High Stakes Divorces
    When a high profile New York real estate mogul and his wife recently announced their divorce, the bitter battle played out in the media, becoming a real life “War of the Roses.” The marriage ended after 57 years, but the fight had just begun.
  • What Are the Odds? Man Wins $80 Million While Going Through a Divorce in Michigan.
    An Oakland County Michigan husband won $80 Million and while the divorce case was pending, the arbitrator issued an interim order to divide the proceeds. But the arbitrator passed away before the divorce was final.
  • Palimony in New Jersey after the Latest Challenge
    A July 22, 2016 decision in New Jersey Superior Court, Lee v. Kim (Bergen County FM-02-1745-16), upholds the constitutionality of New Jersey’s 2010 law requiring cohabitation agreements, also known as “palimony” agreements, to be in writing. The case also stands as a good example of exactly why written agreements are necessary.
  • Virginia Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Couples
    It has been common and expected that when a woman is receiving alimony payments from her ex-husband, he will no longer have to pay spousal support when she becomes engaged to another man. However, when that same woman instead becomes engaged to another woman, courts have ruled that the man must continue his spousal support payments in Virginia; that is, until a recent decision reversed this ruling.
  • Remarriage Changes Alimony Obligations
    The financial ramifications of a divorce are worrisome for most. A supporting spouse can be ordered by a judge to pay alimony, child support and provide other financial assistance. Circumstances change, however.
  • Texas Divorce Mediation
    Divorce can be hard on both the divorcing parties’ emotions and their wallets. For those in Williamson County, there is an alternative to traditional divorce litigation which may ease the emotional strain of a divorce and can be more cost effective in comparison to the traditional divorce process. That alternative is mediation.
  • How Florida Courts Look at Child Support and Arrearages
    Determining the outcomes of child support in the state of Florida entails a number of considerations. First and foremost, no parent can refuse to pay child support, even if it is just a small monthly amount.



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