Alimony or spousal support involves one spouse paying the other either due to a court order or the divorce agreement.
Its purpose is to ensure that both parties can meet their financial needs. One spouse has to prove they were “dependent” on their spouse during the marriage. Alimony is not dependent on gender and can be awarded to either spouse.
Alimony is not included in all divorces. It is typically temporary. For example, it may be awarded temporarily during the proceedings. Sometimes, alimony is awarded as part of the divorce agreement, but it is usually for a set amount of time. However, there are some rare situations where it is permanent and lasts for the rest of the recipient’s life.
State laws set the rules that judges use when deciding on alimony payments. The court determines how much and for how long alimony is received based on the state’s guidelines.
The divorce agreement outlines the terms of the alimony. Additionally, states may vary on aspects of alimony and enforcement. For instance, some states allow for alimony payments to be terminated if the recipient remarries — but not all.
Another common situation is whether the alimony agreement can be modified. Most states will allow a provision to be included in the agreement that addresses under what conditions the alimony could be modified. Typically, this may occur if there is a significant change in the person’s situation.
For divorces finalized after January 1, 2019, the spouse receiving alimony isn’t required to report it as income on their federal tax returns. Additionally, there is no deduction on federal taxes for the paying spouse.