What is Alimony (Spousal Support)?

When you go through a divorce, not only do you have to make decisions about how to divide assets, who will maintain primary custody of the kids, and how child support will be arranged, but in some cases, you may have to provide alimony to your spouse. Alimony is also known as spousal support and is in place to provide income for the spouse that does not have the capability or capacity to earn as much money as the other spouse. Alimony is not the same as child support and there are no specific ways to calculate alimony in any state (see Spousal Support (Alimony)).

Often times, the amount of money a spouse may be entitled to is based on their ability to provide an income that would maintain the same standard of living they were accustomed to when they were married. While often times it is not possible for both spouses to maintain the standard of living they shared when they were married, alimony is in place to try to accomplish this.

Alimony is also determined based on the amount of time you and your spouse were married. If the marriage dissolved after a short period of time, alimony is often not even considered. Whereas, if the marriage lasted many years and one spouse was the primary financial provider, alimony will most often be awarded.

Alimony also has tax consequences. While child support is not tax-deductible by the giver or receiver, alimony is tax deductible to the payer and must be included as part of the taxable income of the payee. Also, alimony may be in place for a certain time, after which time, you are not required to provide your ex-spouse with financial support. Other times, alimony is indefinite or is terminated upon death.

It is a good idea to discuss alimony and the laws regarding alimony in your state with an experienced divorce attorney. Your attorney should be able to help you know what to expect as your divorce is finalized and help you understand what options you have available to you that are in the best interest of you and your child.