Alimony and Spousal Support

Spousal Support and Alimony

Dothan alimony lawyers helping divorce clients in Houston County, Abbeville, Ozark, Enterprise and the surrounding areas

A commonly contested aspect in a divorce is alimony.  People typically don’t fuss about paying child support for their children, most can’t stand having to write a sizable check to their ex every month.  It seems like the divorce will never end as long as alimony is still owed, and causes resentment and feelings of not being appreciated.

On the other hand, the spouse who could not work during the marriage, often at the request of her spouse, is entitled, in some circumstances, to maintain a standard of living close to that to which she grew accustomed during the marriage.  Often, she forfeited a successful career to support her spouse and their kids.  Alimony and Spousal Support may be Ordered to make sure she isn’t destitute after her years of sacrifice.

Divorce courts usually award alimony based upon the need of the spouse asking for alimony as well as the actual ability of the other spouse to pay alimony.  To determine the amount of alimony, the Court will consider many factors such as how long the parties were married and why they are getting divorced.  If the court decides one spouse was at fault in causing the divorce, alimony ma be Ordered from the estate of the at fault spouse.  However, typically, property one spouse owned prior to the marriage or received through inheritance is not considered in determining the amount of alimony.  An common exception to this general rule exists when the property or inheritance is used to support the marriage.   Alabama State Divorce Code – Chapter 2, Section 30-2-52, 30-2-53]

Alimony in Alabama comes in two types:  Periodic Alimony and Alimony in Gross

Periodic Alimony in Alabama

Periodic Alimony is usually a fixed sum of money paid on a monthly basis.  The divorce court will order it for a set number of years (temporary alimony), or for the rest of the spouse’s life (permanent alimony).  Periodic alimony is taxable income to the receiving spouse, and a tax deduction to the payor.  Even when periodic alimony is ordered permanently, it will usually be terminated when the receiving party gets remarried or cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex.

One of the most commonly fought issues our divorce attorneys in Dothan litigate are hearings to terminate alimony because of cohabitation with a new boyfriend or girlfriend.  The alimony paying spouse can’t wait to get their ex spouse off the payroll and wants to end periodic alimony by showing the Court cohabitation.  The alimony receiving spouse usually denies cohabitation, claiming they maintain a separate legal residence from their new flame.   These cases are usually judgment calls for the court, which is where the skill of an experienced alimony attorney helps in presenting the proper evidence.
Many thousands of dollars hinge on the outcome of such alimony termination hearings.

Even when our client is not asking to terminate periodic alimony completely, it can be modified if there has been a material change in your financial circumstances.  This is not the case with alimony in gross discussed below.  The most common example of this often seen by our Dothan divorce attorneys is a change in the income of the person required to pay the alimony.  When the alimony payor’s annual income has decreased significantly, they can move the divorce court to change the periodic alimony to a smaller monthly amount.   Likewise, when the paying spouse earns a raise, in some circumstances, the one receiving the alimony recipient can successfully seek an Order from the divorce court increasing the monthly alimony amount.

Alimony in Gross in Alabama

Alimony in gross are payments from one spouse to the other in a fixed amount for a definite period.  Unlike periodic alimony, alimony in gross is not subject to modification, unless the Order granting alimony in gross is successfully appealed.  Alimony in gross in Alabama is typically based upon the joint marital assets at the time of the divorce.  Alimony in gross is usually ordered as a lump sum and is Ordered as part of the property settlement of the parties.  For example, one spouse may be allowed to keep the vacation house, but the divorce Order may grant the other spouse a lump sum payment of $100,000 as alimony in gross as their portion of the equity of said house.  Also, in gross alimony can be discharged through bankruptcy.

If you are going through a divorce or have questions about alimony in Alabama, contact the experienced Dothan divorce attorneys at Parkman White, LLP a call.  Alimony is a complex topic, and you should know the differences between alimony in gross and periodic alimony before entering into any divorce agreement.  The Dothan divorce lawyers at Parkman White, LLP are prepared to answer all of your alimony questions in Alabama.