Spousal Support / Alimony
How does spousal support work?
Spousal support, or as it's also called, alimony, is likely an issue whenever there is a significant difference in personal income between the two spouses. The spouse that receives support will pay federal and state income taxes on it, and the spouse making support payments will be entitled to a tax deduction. The existence, amount and duration of monthly support payments will be defined either by the court in a contested setting or by the parties in the form of a settlement agreement.
Courts make determinations regarding spousal support after considering many factors:
- such as the length of the marriage,
- the standard of living during the marriage,
- as well as the age,
- earning capacity
- and job histories of both individuals.
In many of our cases, we must negotiate or litigate to achieve a minimization or termination of this sometimes oppressive obligation in our client’s best interest.
Changes to US Tax Law Regarding Spousal Support:
The new tax plan that was passed in Dec. 2017 went into effect on January 1, 2019. At that time Spousal Support deduction for the payer was abolished.
This doesn’t alter deals that were in place before January 1st 2019.
It will, however, influence all settlements moving forward as well as any support modifications.
What are the different types of Spousal Support?
Transitional spousal support is precisely what it sounds like. It’s awarded to one party in order to help smooth over the move from married back to single life. Shorter in duration and not usually as long a commitment, this is most common in brief and mid-length marriages. Transitional support usually comes into play to help one spouse get training or education that will aid in advancing job prospects and earning potential.
Less common than the transitional variety, the court may award compensatory support in some cases. If the division of property skews substantially to one party, this may come into play. In situations where one party contributed a great deal to the career and future financial prospects of the other, the judge may also award this. For example, it can be granted if a husband worked full time to support his wife through college or in similar circumstances. Of the three types, this is the least common.
When it comes to longer marriages, the court may mandate that you or your spouse pay maintenance support. This type of payment is awarded most often when there is a sizeable disparity in earning power. In many cases, this is a gap that may never close. The court can order temporary maintenance support, but in many cases, these payments continue indefinitely and remain open-ended. This is especially true when one spouse may be unable to find suitable future employment due to health issues or other reasons.
While these are the three types of spousal support, the court can also award a combination.
During the post-divorce transition period, payments may be larger. But they may shift to a smaller maintenance amount at some point down the road.