Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is financial support that is paid to one spouse during or after a divorce. Unlike child support, alimony is discretionary, and the court determines the amount.
The goal of spousal support is to help both parties maintain the general lifestyle that they are used to. It can also provide “breathing room” for an individual to further their education or find a job that will allow them to maintain an appropriate lifestyle.
Types of Alimony in Alabama
In Alabama, three types of alimony could be awarded at the court’s discretion:
- Periodic – As the name suggests, periodic alimony involves periodic payments from one former spouse to the other. These payments are made to help the receiver maintain the standard of living set during the marriage. It is often awarded when a marriage of significant length is dissolved, particularly if one of the spouses did not work during the marriage and therefore could struggle to find a source of income immediately after the divorce. Periodic alimony can continue indefinitely, until the recipient remarries or until the recipient can establish a sufficient source of income.
- In Gross – To compensate for the distribution of property in a divorce, the court may require payment from one former spouse to the other. The value of this payment should meet the total value of the affected property. Repayment can be made all at once or in periodic installments. Once the full amount is paid, ownership of the property is considered settled. The amount of gross alimony cannot be modified.
- Rehabilitative – This is a short-term option that is usually set with a specific goal in mind. The goal may be to allow one spouse to earn a degree or to transition into the job market. The award will generally align with the amount of time it will take for the recipient to meet these goals.
Will I Have to Pay Alimony, or Can I Receive It?
When determining whether you will have to pay alimony or whether you qualify to receive it, a judge will consider a number of factors and will either award or decline it accordingly. These factors can vary, but often include:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living established during the marriage
- The earning capacity of the individuals in the marriage
- The age of the individuals in the marriage
- The health and the physical, mental, and emotional limitations of the individuals in the marriage
- Access to other forms of income for each person after the marriage ends
- Contributions one spouse made to the education, training, or career of the other
- How each person behaved during the marriage
- Whether one spouse acted as a homemaker
In addition to these factors, the court may choose to consider the family’s specific situation. For instance, the court will likely take into account additional financial needs if one spouse will be the primary caregiver for dependent children after the divorce.
Calculating Alimony During an Alabama Divorce
To learn more about how likely it is your divorce will involve alimony, we recommend you read our article about how to calculate your alimony in Alabama.
If you are preparing for a divorce that may involve alimony, contact the Huntsville divorce lawyers of New Beginnings Family Law today. We are here to support you, to answer your questions, and help you move on with your life. Contact us by filling out a contact form, chatting with us live, or by calling us directly.