AlabamaAlimony Guide - Spousal Support Laws
Alabama Alimony Guide :: Table of Contents
What is Alimony?
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a court-ordered provision of financial support a spouse for after a divorce. Alimony laws vary considerably from state to state, and courts often have significant flexibility on a case-by-case basis in determing whether to award alimony, how much alimony to award, and how long alimony payments will continue.
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How is Alimony Granted?
In the state of Alabama, alimony is received after a divorce only if the marriage and the resulting divorce, fit into a few restrictions. Alimony is considered when either spouse of a divorced marriage has no separate estate from the other, or if it isn't large enough in value to support the spouse, a judge may order an allowance to be made from the wealthier spouse's estate to the less fortunate spouse. This payment depends on many factors, such as contribution made by both spouses to the success of the marriage and any aid either spouse gave to the other, the length of the marriage, and more. Property acquired before the marriage, or property that had been inherited may not be considered part of the estate unless evidence is provided that show that the property, or income produced from it, had been used regularly by both individuals during the marriage.
Many things are taken into consideration for the amount of the alimony payments and length in which they are judged to continue for. The judge may include, at his discretion, the present value of retirement benefits in either spouse's estate value when considering the ruling; the marriage must have lasted a minimum of ten years while this retirement fund accumulated for this to come into effect; the covered spouse shall receive none of the providing spouse’s retirement benefit until he or she starts receiving money from it, unless a lump-sum agreement is made. Often, misconduct of either party in the relationship, such as if the cause of the divorce was the intentional actions of one party completely or if the party at fault were involved in criminal activities, will be taken into consideration as to whether or not alimony is awarded; the consideration of misconduct can affect the awarding of alimony in any way, dependent on which party was at fault and the severity of the misconduct.
As in most states, in Alabama, alimony is awarded at the final judgment of the judge deciding the case.
In the state of Alabama, a number of factors are taken into account when calculating the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support payments.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating alimony?
Alabama does not consider a statutory list of factors when determining alimony payments.
Is marital fault considered in Alabama alimony?
Alabama considers marital fault when determining alimony payments. This means that "at-fault" divorces, which may be caused by infidelity / adultery, abuse, etc, can result in the at-fault party paying more "punitive" alimony.
Is standard of living considered in Alabama alimony?
Standard of living is considered when calculating alimony payments in the state of Alabama. This means that a judge will consider the lifestyle enjoyed by the alimony-receiving spouse during the duration of the marriage when determining an appropriate alimony payment amount.
Is custodial status considered when determining alimony in the state of Alabama?
The judge in the state of Alabama does not consider custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are not affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children.
How exactly is alimony calculated in the state of Alabama?
Calculation of alimony is generally done on a case-by-case basis by the Alabama family court judge who is responsible for the case. While some states have a fixed alimony calculation formula, in most cases the final amount and duration of alimony awarded (if alimony is awarded) is at the discretion of the judge.
- How long must alimony be paid?
- The duration of payments is determined by a judge in Alabama family court. Alimony length is usually based on length of marriage - one commonly used standard for alimony duration is that 1 year of alimony is paid every three years of marriage (however, this is not always the case in every state or with every judge). Alimony may also be discontinued upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In some cases, judges may even award permanent alimony.
- What happens if alimony isn't paid?
- If alimony is unpaid, the owed debt is known as alimony arrears. Arrears can be collected via mediation, small claims court, or wage garnishment. Failure to comply with a court-issued spousal support order may also result in a contempt of court charge against the spouse who failed to pay owed alimony.
- Can alimony be waived by a prenuptual agreement?
- A prenup agreement is a contract between spouses regarding marriage-related financial matters signed prior to marriage. Limitation or waiving rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptual agreements, but some states or localities prohibit such alimony waivers.
- Can alimony be collected if you're not married?
- The legal concept of alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is dependant upon a legal marriage. However, in some areas - especially those with a concept of common-law marriage - "palimony", or support payments between non-married individuals, has been awarded by courts. However, this generally requires extenuating circumstances.
- What is alimony mediation?
When a marriage ends through divorce and alimony is expected to be paid, spouses have the choice to determine an alimony agreement either through litigation (in Alabama family court) or through mutual agreement. Often, a Alabama alimony mediator can be brought in to help the ex-spouses come to a mutual agreement regarding alimony and other contested issues such as property division, and thus avoid having to go to court.
- How are alimony payments taxed?
On a federal level, all qualifying Alabama alimony payments are deductible by the payor, and counted as taxable income by the recipient. To qualify as alimony under IRS guidelines, the following must be true:
- The payments are in cash
- The parties live in seperate households
- The payments are strictly for alimony (as opposed to for child support, etc)
Taxation of alimony varies on a state and local level. You can learn more about Alabama income taxes here .