In some divorce matters, the question of whether one of the spouse is entitled to receive spousal support, formerly called “alimony”, and the other obligated to pay, may arise. Spousal support is the payment of funds at regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly, for the purpose of financially supporting the spouse, or ex-spouse.
Spousal support may arise in a divorce case when one spouse is in need of financial support, and the other spouse has the ability to provide. For example, if one spouse has been out of the workforce for many years to raise the couple’s children, he or she may need spousal support, or alimony, for a period of time until he or she can re-enter the workforce and earn a sufficient income, which may require education or training. Another example is when a spouse is incapacitated or disabled, and therefore unable to work. A court may award spousal support based on many factors, and weighing both the financial needs of the recipient spouse, and the ability of the payor spouse to pay.
Spousal support may be awarded in a divorce case in addition to child support and/or a property settlement (division of marital assets and debts). Currently spousal support is considered taxable income to the recipient spouse, and a tax write off to the payor spouse; however this is soon to change and will be treated as a tax neutral transaction, like child support, for Orders entered after December 31, 2018. Spousal support may be temporary in nature while the Divorce is pending, awarded for a limited time post-divorce judgment (such as to allow a spouse time to obtain skills or education and become gainfully employed), or permanent (such as when a recipient spouse is disabled and unable to work). Additionally, even long after the divorce, if spousal support is awarded or agreed to, it may be modified if the situation of either spouse changes, unless the parties agree through settlement that it is not modifiable. For example, if the recipient spouse remarries or his or her financial situation improves, or if the payor spouse loses his or her job and is unable to continue with the payments, and also provide for themselves financially.
If you are concerned about spousal support, and whether it may apply to you, or if you have a divorce decree that awards spousal support and believe it may need to be modified, at Schmeltzer & Bostic, we can assist you with answering your spousal support questions and concerns. We do not take a standard approach to cases, but instead work with you to determine your specific legal goals and needs to help you find solutions that are right for you, your children, and your future.