Alimony, Maintenance, Spousal Support

U.S. Divorce Law Center

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

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

  • Survivor Benefit Plan Award and Military Divorce
    When the military member faces divorce from his or her spouse, the usual process involves survivor benefits, retirement benefits or additional monies through accounts or other programs to the nonmilitary spouse. It is important for the military member to understand these situations, so he or she is not caught unaware.
  • What Does the OPM Have to Do with My Divorce?
    Retirement from government work may lead to complications with the division of assets when a federal employee divorces his or her spouse. It is vital for the worker to know how his or her retirement benefits and accounts could face such deductions from a former spouse after reaching and progressing through retirement.
  • USFSPA: Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act
    The intention of Congress in 1982 in creating the USFSPA was to ensure that former spouses of military members receive financial protection after the marriage is over. This Act could protect the former spouse through divisions in military retirement pay in becoming marital property when the couple dissolve the relationship.
  • Disabled Military Retirees May Pay Less to Ex-Spouses - U.S. Supreme Court Rules
    Changes in regulations for various types of pay and compensation reduce or increase often based on the rulings that occur through district and supreme courts. In the newest ruling, the amounts that military retired service members pay to spouses that divorced prior to or during retirement may decrease to support the veteran more and the ex-spouse less.
  • Problems Involved with Hiding Assets during a Pennsylvania Divorce
    During divorce, spouses may try to protect their assets from division by hiding them from the other spouse. This may be easier if the spouse has handled the couple’s finances for most of the marriage and the other spouse is unaware of the true extent of the marital estate. However, hiding assets during the divorce process can lead to significant consequences to all parties involved.
  • New Tax Laws' Impact on Virginia Divorce and Spousal Support
    Spousal support helps provide monetary assistance to a spouse who has less earning capacity or income than his or her spouse. State laws determine when to award spousal support and in what amount. However, other factors may influence whether spousal support is requested or agreed to by the parties, such as tax treatment. New tax laws may impact Virginia divorces and spousal support orders.
  • Military Pension Division in New York Divorce Cases
    One of the major issues involved in a divorce case is the division of the couple’s assets and debts. For many couples, a major asset is their retirement fund or pension. In some cases, these assets are subject to division in a divorce case. While this process is complicated enough on its own, there are additional complications when the couple involves a service member.
  • How Retirement Accounts Are Divided in a Georgia Divorce
    Divorce is often a complex process that involves legal obligations, emotions, logistical concerns and other stressful considerations. Although many divorcing parties are distraught over the prospect of divorce, divorcing parties are often in the position of having to make important decisions that may have an impact on their life for years to come.
  • When to Separate during a Military Marriage?
    When a couple is unable to remain together even if there are children in the relationship, it might be time to separate legally and think about ending the marriage. However, this comes with various tasks and processes when the military is part of the picture such as identification badges, access to the campus or military bases and legal documentation.
  • How Long Do I Have Military Tricare after a Divorce?
    When divorcing a spouse, an individual in the military needs to update the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System first and then ensure that all other documentation is up to date as well. Then, the person needs to contact Tricare to determine if any other processes need completing based on the year, state or new changes.

Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer