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

  • 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.
  • Effect of Adultery on Divorce Cases in Florida
    While it can be devastating to discover that your spouse has been unfaithful and broken his or her vows, laws are increasingly finding such information irrelevant. Most heartbalm statutes have been eliminated across the country, limiting the rights of the aggrieved spouse to seek compensation from the adultery partner.
  • Getting a Divorce in California
    While all 50 states now have no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce, the process of getting a divorce is different in each state. Read the information below to learn about how the process of getting a divorce in California and consider seeking legal representation to assist you with this process.
  • Your Options When a Change in Income Makes it Hard to Pay Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
    Alimony in Pennsylvania is calculated based on a list of 17 spousal support criteria. These criteria are based on each spouse’s income during the marriage and at the time of the divorce. But, circumstances can change. Can alimony orders be modified if one spouse’s income changes significantly?
  • Do I Have a Right to a Family Business in Divorce?
    When contemplating divorce, spouses may think about the family home, real estate, financial accounts and maybe even retirement accounts. However, one important asset that should also be considered is whether a family business may be subject to marital distribution.
  • Special Considerations for Gray Divorces
    When a couple gets divorced later in life, this is dubbed a “gray divorce.” Older individuals often have different issues to deal with during the divorce process than individuals of other age brackets. These special considerations include:
  • Why Should I Go through Divorce Mediation?
    Divorce mediation is an alternative to litigating issues. In some jurisdictions, mediation is required in all family law cases. However, mediation can also be proposed by one of the parties even absent the court’s order to participate in it.



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