What is Alimony or Spousal Support?
Alimony is the amount that is agreed upon and ordered by the courts for one party to pay to another following a divorce in Alabama. Sometimes called spousal support, alimony is intended to help the other party avoid financial distress following the divorce and ensure they can remain financially whole.
Alimony is not awarded in every divorce in Alabama. There are some couples who have similar financial statuses and earning capacities, which means that following a divorce, both parties will generally remain financially strong.
How is Alimony Calculated in Alabama?
Unlike some states that utilize a calculation spreadsheet to determine what alimony may be awarded to a spouse, courts in Alabama have more discretion as to what, if any alimony is awarded.
The ability of one spouse’s capacity to pay the other and the recipient spouse’s financial requirements after divorce are primarily what the courts will take into consideration.
Other aspects that courts will review when calculating alimony are;
- The earning abilities of both spouses now and in the future
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s health, age, including physical and emotional health
- Each spouse’s standard of living and whether or not it is realistic based on the level of income
- Each estate – property acquired by either spouse before marriage, what was obtained as a couple while married, and more.
- Misconduct by either party during the marriage, including adultery, abuse, and more.
In conclusion, the courts have extraordinary discretion as to which facts they will review to determine what, if any, alimony will be awarded, and they have discretion as to how much weight each fact may carry in their determination.
Having an experienced attorney by your side is vital to ensure that the courts receive and review essential facts regarding potential alimony that may be awarded so the results aren’t skewed unrealistically.
What Types of Alimony Are Available in Alabama?
Rehabilitative alimony – is alimony that is awarded on a short-term basis. One spouse may need support for a year or two while they pursue a career after remaining in the home for most of the marriage. Rehabilitative alimony may be awarded for a short term to allow them a cushion to get back into the job market and secure a financially stable position.
Periodic Alimony – is awarded and set for a specific period of time by the courts. Once that time has ended, the temporary alimony ceases. Typical examples are $1,000 a month to the recipient spouse for five, ten, or fifteen years.
Other Types of Alimony
Alimony in Gross – This type of alimony is typically a lump sum payment made to one spouse and can be used to help distribute assets evenly following a divorce. Alimony in gross can also be split up into several payments, which are determined by the courts.
Permanent alimony – is awarded in less common cases. Typically reserved for those couples who have been married for a significant amount of time, such as twenty or more years, and one spouse shows substantial financial need for support. The recipient spouse may have their alimony revoked should they choose to remarry or cohabitate with another party in the future.
Can I Modify Alimony in the Future?
It’s important to understand that courts aren’t typically reviewing cases for modifications to alimony unless there is a solid reason to do so. This can mean that courts will typically deny the request for modification unless there has been a significant and realistic change in either party’s life.
By doing this, courts can alleviate unrealistic or unnecessary time in the courts for insignificant modifications to alimony.
Significant or fundamental changes may include a substantial change in the health of either party, changing their ability to pay alimony, or requiring more assistance due to health issues.
A significant change in the employment of one of the parties may be a realistic reason to request an alimony modification. One party may have lost their job and not be able to find one that pays at the same level they were once made, or alternatively, one spouse may have taken a new position that raises their salary significantly, making the other spouse desire a modification to the alimony.
An event that occurs that significantly affects the paying spouse’s ability to continue alimony payments. A significant health issue, a severe injury, and other significant changes may result in the inability to pay alimony at the level they once were.
Courts will want to see factual significant changes in one or both parties to review a modification request. Consult your experienced attorney to ensure your evidence supports a substantial, realistic change worthy of an alimony modification.
The Experience You Need For the Results You Deserve
Having been in practice since 2011, our team is well-versed in the courts in Alabama and all things family law. We work with clients to ensure their voices are heard and they get the realistic results they deserve.
No one should be left in financial peril following a divorce. Contact our office today at (205) 881-5641 to schedule your consultation with our team and learn more about how we can help you.
It’s important to remember that though family issues almost certainly come with intense emotions and urgency, navigating the courts doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as one may think. We are fierce advocates for our clients with compassion and respect for how these decisions will change their lives. We listen to our clients and formulate an effective strategy with them to ensure they get the results they deserve and don’t settle for less.