Alimony or spousal support may be awarded during divorce proceedings when one spouse earns significantly more than the other spouse. A judge can order support to be provided during the divorce proceedings, for a limited time after the divorce and, in some circumstances, permanently. The court considers a number of factors to determine alimony, and must conclude that one spouse has a financial need and that the other one is capable of providing support. One key factor is the length of the marriage. If the marriage only lasted a short time, spousal support may not be awarded or, if necessary, is brief.
Before spousal support is awarded, property division must be complete. The court then considers the assets of each spouse and if any support is required. A number of factors may play a role in the court’s decision to award alimony, such as the age of each spouse, their health, their earning ability, the requirements of any dependent children, the previous role of the spouse as a caregiver or parent, and any contribution given to support the career of the other spouse. Finally, the court may take into account any behavior or choices that contributed to the dissolution of the marriage.
In Alabama, there are six different types of alimony that can be awarded:
Periodic alimony – Permanent alimony means that the alimony will last until either spouse dies, remarries, or lives with someone of the opposite sex. It is generally reserved for lengthy marriages in which one spouse was a homemaker or cared for the children while the other spouse worked. Periodic alimony refers to traditional alimony, paid biweekly or monthly. It is tax deductible for the spouse that pays the alimony and taxable for the spouse that receives alimony.
Lump sum alimony – When alimony is awarded at one time, as a large payment instead of ongoing payments, it is considered lump sum alimony.
Alimony pendent lite – Alimony pendent lite is awarded, when necessary, by a judge to help support a spouse during the divorce proceedings.
Rehabilitative alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is paid during a specific period of time to give a spouse the opportunity to seek education, get a job, and become self-sufficient.
Alimony in gross – Alimony in gross is alimony that is received as part of the property settlement and cannot be modified. It is not tax deductible and the spouse that receives the alimony does not have to pay taxes on it.
Alabama does not have a formula to determine alimony, and much discretion is given to the judge. Unless otherwise stated, the court can reconsider alimony periodically based on a significant change in circumstances, such as the loss of a job or a demotion. Alimony payments end if the dependent spouse either remarries or cohabitates with another.
If you have questions or concerns about alimony, contact us online at (205) 623-1001. We will answer your questions and guide you through your divorce.