What is alimony?
- Alimony is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other after the marriage has legally ended.
- Alimony is also sometimes called spousal support.
- Temporary alimony (also called pendente lite alimony) can be granted while the divorce is in progress, to help until the divorce is final. When the divorce becomes final, there may or may not be an order for alimony after the divorce. If alimonyafter the divorce is awarded, that amount could be higher or lower than the temporary amount.
- Monthly alimony is an arrangement where the wife will get a monthly amount of maintenance.
- Permanent alimony is an arrangement where a bulk amount will be given in lieu of maintenance.
There are two stages wherein the matter of financial support (or alimony or spousal support or maintenance) for either spouse can be sought before divorce is actually granted:
What is the purpose of alimony?
To provide “reasonable and necessary” support. The person asking for alimony must show the court that he or she needs financial support, and that the other spouse has the ability to provide financial support.
What do I do if I want alimony?
- You can ask for alimony as part of a divorce proceeding.
- If you and your spouse reach an agreement about alimony, you can ask the judge to make the agreement a part of the court order.
- If you cannot reach an agreement, the judge will decide whether you are entitled to alimony.
What if I don’t ask for alimony during the divorce, but later I decide I need it?
You must request alimony during your divorce proceeding. You will not be allowed to request it after the divorce case is over.
Can alimony order be changed after the divorce?
Alimony may be modified if there has been a change in circumstances. The party seeking the modification must return to the court that granted the order to file for the modification.
For what reasons might a judge change an award after the divorce?
The judge may modify an alimony award if the ability of the paying ex-spouse to make payments has changed or if there has been a change in the needs of the person receiving the payments.
How is the Amount of Alimony Determined?
Courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award alimony and, if so, how much and for how long. There are various aspects to determine the amount of Alimony or Spousal Support.
- The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
- The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
- The couple’s standard of living during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage; and
- The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.