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Alimony and Divorce in Alabama

Alimony in Alabama

In Alabama a spouse may receive alimony after divorce.  There are two forms and many areas to consider when deiciding what type of alimony is appropriate. 

Alimony comes in two forms:

  1. Alimony in gross
  2. Periodic Alimony


A major difference in the types of alimony is that Alimony in Gross is a non-taxable event.  The receipient does not have to pay tax on it as income and the paying spouse cannot use it as a tax deduction.  Whereas Periodic Alimony is a taxable event.  The recipient has to pay tax on it as income and the paying spouse can deduct it from their taxable income.  Also, Alimony in Gross is a non-modifiable event.  Once it is set it must be paid as ordered.  Some people refer to it as a lump sum property settlement which it can be compared to that since it is a non-modifiable and non-taxable event.

Alimony can be awarded through a pendente lite hearing at the beginning of a divorce case and adjusted or terminated at the final hearing.  A pendente lite hearing is a hearing that can be held at the beginning of the case to give temporary relief to the party that needs income to get on “their feet” while the divorce is pending. 

Alimony in Gross:  When Alimony is awarded as “alimony in gross” it is for a specific reason.  It is in some way a compensation for marital rights.  The idea is that marriage itself has value and it continues to build in value through the years.  If the judge feels that one side has gotten “the short end of the stick”, they may award alimony in gross.  It is a definite “lump sum” amount to be paid during a definite period. 

Periodic Alimony: This form of alimony is considered support for a spouse who cannot maintain the status quo without assistance from the other spouse.  The status quo comes out of a long line of cases that directs the court to “insofar as possible” attempt to maintain the standard of living of both parties that they enjoyed during the marriage. 

Periodic Alimony terminates at the happening of specific events such as:

  1. Death of either party;
  2. Remarriage by the recipient of the alimony payments; or
  3. Open cohabitation of the receipient with members of the opposite sex. 

Characteristics of Periodic Alimony are:

  1. No definite end – could be paid for the rest of your life absent a termination event mentioned above occurring;
  2. No set sum – no ceiling to the amount to be paid.  The amount is configured on the “shortfall” or deficit of the party requiring support.
  3. In some cases, no amount of time required to be married.

To prove that Periodic Alimony should be awarded:

  1. Your attorney must prove need by the party requiring support.  This is the threshold burden that must be proven before you may proceed; and
  2. That the other party has the ability to pay the money to meet the need proven

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