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 Alimony Reform 2015
    Florida Alimony Reform legislation was introduced in the Florida House of Representatives on February 23, 2015. This bill creates guidelines, comprised of presumptive alimony amounts and presumptive alimony durations.
  • California Same-Sex Couples Gain Rights, Face Challenges
    California's gay and lesbian couples can now legally marry but they still face challenges when it comes to divorce and family-related disputes.
  • Implications of Failing to Comply with a Court Order
    Family court orders can be used to settle matters such as child custody and visitation, support payments, and legal fee obligations for either party.
  • Divorce - The Real Numbers
    Despite pronouncements by pundits of doom, and contrary to common wisdom, the realities of the divorce rates in the United States show decreasing trends.
  • Retirement, Alimony and the New Jersey Alimony Reform Statute
    The new Alimony Reform Statute signed into law by Governor Christie in September makes important changes with regard to how retirement is treated when the retiree is paying alimony.
  • My Ex is Fighting for Custody of the Kids, What Do I Do?
    Children are often the unfortunate pawns of battles between exes. Sometimes motivated by desires to hurt the other parent or out of a selfish desire to be the sole or primary influence on the child's life, these battles can be emotionally challenging for both parents and children alike. So, if you see such a battle looming on the horizon, what can you do? How can you avoid a fight that will harm your child while preserving your own interest in being with your son or daughter?
  • How Do I Know If I Can Receive Alimony?
    Alimony, or spousal support, helps to provide a financial supplement to a lower-earning spouse to cover some of his or her living expenses. It is not available in all cases and is treated differently than child support, which is to take care of the child’s expenses.
  • Speaking Two Different Languages
    Have you ever found yourself speaking to someone and thinking that you must be talking in a different language because there is such disconnect between what you are saying and the other person is hearing? Magnify that ten-fold in family law matters.
  • Maneuvering Through a High Dollar Divorce
    Most people will agree that going through a divorce is usually a stressful and overwhelming experience. When a divorce involves the distribution of a great deal of money, it is especially important to accurately evaluate finances in order to ensure a positive resolution for all those involved.
  • How Divorce in New Jersey Affects Filing Taxes
    Finances play a significant role in a divorce settlement. Under the umbrella of finances, it is important to remember the annual tax consequences of the settlement after a divorce. This is especially true if the divorcing couple has dependent children.

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