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

  • The Downside of Divorce Lawyers Who Are Too Aggressive
    It is a common situation during divorce for one or both spouses to run out and try to get the most aggressive lawyer with a pit bull reputation. Aggressive lawyers may sometimes be able to bring about positive results during the process of divorce. However, those who are not led by their clients’ best interests may actually do more harm than good. Some of the downsides of using an overly aggressive lawyer include:
  • Buyout Your Ex
    You’re in the middle of a divorce and you want to stay in your home. You and your spouse both feel the stability will be good for the children. While it may give your children stability, it may just put you in the poor house.
  • Key Distinctions between Legal Separation and Divorce
    Many of the processes involved in divorce are also used for separations. However, there are distinct differences between a legal separation and divorce. Furthermore, some states do not recognize a legal separation, causing the classification to be merely married or divorced, even if spouses are physically separated.
  • Vetting a Family Law Lawyer Before Signing on the Dotted Line
    It can be difficult to know where to turn when you are facing the prospect of divorce or other contested family law case. Many individuals do not have an existing relationship with a lawyer and do not know where to begin. Finding the right divorce lawyer is critical to having a successful divorce. Some ways to vet the right lawyer include:
  • How Divorce Lawyer Fees and Costs Are Structured and How to Pay for Them
    Divorce lawyer fees and costs can come as a surprise to someone who was not anticipating a divorce. However, it is important for anyone going through a divorce to have a clear understanding how legal fees and costs are structured and to consider ways to pay for them. The fee structure can have a significant impact on the amount that a client pays.
  • How to Prove a Spouse Lied on Asset and Debt Disclosures
    During a divorce, spouses are typically required to disclose particular information about their assets, income and debts. This is so that the spouses can make informed decisions during the divorce and so the eventual settlement or order incorporates information about all known factors.
  • Benefits and Concerns of Partnering in Business with Your Spouse
    The vast majority of businesses in the United States are family-owned or controlled. This means that many people are in business with a relative, often a spouse. Being business partners with a spouse can cause many advantages as well as disadvantages. It is important to carefully weigh a number of factors before launching a business with a spouse.
  • How to Reduce Spousal Support
    When a marriage reaches its end, it is fairly common that a family court will order spousal support payments to provide more equal incomes between the parties. The marital settlement agreement or the divorce decree may contain information on the amount of support and its duration. However, sometimes factors change that warrant a reduction in spousal support.
  • Spousal Entitlement to Business Interests
    During a divorce, there may be many assets that affect both partners. These assets may have been accumulated during the marriage and may be subject to division during the divorce. One such asset may be a business interest.
  • Equal Parenting After a Divorce
    Equal parenting is the concept of equally and fairly dividing all duties and responsibilities regarding children after a divorce.



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