In some cases, alimony or spousal support may be appropriate. Spousal support may be awarded, for example, when one party earns significantly more than the other. It can also be ordered if one spouse has stayed home to raise the children while the other spouse worked. Spousal support can be provided for a set period of time in order to allow an individual time to further their education or develop the skills necessary to achieve a higher income.
The court must conclude that one party is in need of resources and that the other party is capable of providing such resources. Alimony is generally considered in marriages lasting a considerable amount of time. Individuals married for a short period of time are usually only awarded limited alimony, if any. In Alabama, spousal support is not calculated until the property division is complete. At this point, the court considers the assets of each party in addition to their age and earning potential, placement of children, their duties during the marriage (for example, staying home to raise children), and their overall health and wellbeing. The court may also consider any actions committed by either party that led to the dissolution of marriage.
There are numerous types of alimony that may be received:
- Periodic alimony – Periodic alimony may be awarded in marriages that lasted a long period of time. This alimony is payable until death or the remarriage or cohabitation of the party receiving support. This alimony may be appropriate in cases in which one individual stayed home to raise children and support the household while the other party worked to provide income.
- Lump sum alimony – Lump sum alimony refers to a large payment that is provided in lieu of monthly or biweekly alimony payments. In this sense, it may be viewed more as part of the property settlement rather than traditional alimony.
- Alimony pendent lite – Alimony pendent lite is alimony that exists to support the needs of one spouse during the divorce proceedings.
- Rehabilitative alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is paid over a finite period of time. The goal is for the recipient spouse to utilize this time to seek education, skills, or a job in order to support themselves.
- Alimony in gross – Alimony in gross is received as part of the property agreement and is not taxable for the recipient.
Although there is not a set formula or a calculator to determine alimony, in general the greater the disparity in income and earning ability and length of the marriage, the greater the alimony payments. Because the amount of alimony awarded is generally at the discretion of the court, it is critical to have appropriate representation. An experienced Alabama family attorney will work with you to develop a strategy for how to handle alimony. Sometimes, either through negotiations or mediation, you and the other party may be able to determine an alimony payment that you both feel is reasonable. Again, your attorney can provide guidance and help you understand an amount that may be appropriate based upon prior cases and your own unique needs.
When you are in the midst of a divorce and face an uncertain future, alimony may represent security. Don’t leave it to chance – put it in the hands of a professional. Contact the Zwiebel Law Firm today online or at 205-623-1001.