Start My Answer

What is Alimony?

Dena Standley | January 31, 2023

Dena Standley
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Dena Standley, BA

Dena Standley is a seasoned paralegal with more than 20 years of experience in legal research and writing, having received a certification as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal from Southern Technical College.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: An alimony award provides a continuing income to a spouse who is not a wage earner or earns a lower wage after a divorce. The ex-spouse may have abandoned a career to support the family, so they need time to acquire job skills.

A significant part of the divorce process is alimony. Alimony can refer to several payments made from one spouse to the other, and divorcees are entitled to alimony to maintain a similar standard of living.

A majority of alimony awards in the past went to ex-wives. But due to the rise in two-wage marriages, women are considered less dependent now, and men might be the primary parents in many cases. The number of orders for alimony payments from ex-wives to ex-husbands is rising.

In recent years, courts and awards for spousal support have kept pace with changing circumstances, for example, following the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Higher-earning spouses in same-sex divorces are ordered to pay alimony to a dependent spouse of the same gender. Here is more.

What is alimony?

An alimony payment is a financial support one spouse provides to another after a divorce. The ex-spouse may need support if the other spouse cannot support themselves. In general, alimony is a sum of money calculated and fixed by a court for one of the spouses to contribute.

A variety of factors may determine alimony support in different states, including

  • Both parties' ages
  • Marriage duration
  • Education (if any) and degrees earned

Separated or divorced parents may need to pay alimony based on their expenses and resources, such as:

  • Spouses' net monthly incomes
  • Credit status
  • Rent
  • Taxation
  • Amounts spent on the children's education, health, and other expenses

The payments may be made in one lump sum or in installments.

How to understand alimony

In each state, the amount of and duration of alimony depends on the length of the marriage and each spouse's current and future potential incomes, and many factors vary from state to state.

A relatively new marriage or one in which spouses have similar annual incomes may not be eligible for alimony payments. Children support, noncash property settlements, voluntary payments, or money used to maintain the property are not included in alimony.

What are the types of alimony?

Depending on the state, alimony can take a variety of forms. For example, California has five types of alimony:

  • Temporary alimony: Divorce costs and daily expenses may be included, but the payments cease once the divorce ends.
  • Permanent alimony: A monthly payment is made until the lower-earning spouse remarries or passes away.
  • Rehabilitative alimony: Paid while the lower-earning spouse studies, trains, or tries to find a job. It ends either after a certain period or when the payee becomes independent.
  • Reimbursement alimony: The lower-earning spouse is reimbursed for expenses such as tuition or work training, but it is not on an ongoing basis.
  • Lump-sum alimony: The payment is made instead of a property settlement when one spouse does not wish to keep any property or assets from the marriage.

Alimony termination is flexible and open to negotiation, as evidenced above by the types of alimony. Among the other situations that could justify stopping payments are:

  • Retirement
  • Parental care is no longer required for children
  • An evaluation by a judge that a recipient is not striving to become self-sufficient

How to get alimony

The court must be able to establish some facts before ordering alimony. Some facts are common to all states, but others vary.

  • You may have to prove the standard of living you enjoyed while you were married without your spouse's support, and you will have to give a detailed account of your financial situation.
  • Your spouse will most likely have to demonstrate that they can maintain a standard of living similar to what you had when you were married, even if they pay you alimony.
  • A premarital agreement or a divorce proceeding containing no alimony provision will prevent you from receiving it.

How do taxes on alimony work?

There has been a change in the rules regarding alimony taxation. Taxes on alimony payments were deductible expenses for the payer but taxable income for the receiver. As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, alimony payments are no longer deductible on federal taxes for divorce agreements signed after Dec. 31, 2018.

Additionally, alimony recipients no longer owe federal taxes for alimony payments.

Is there a formula for calculating alimony?

States have formulas that help the court calculate alimony. A lower-earning spouse receives a percentage of the difference between their monthly incomes. In some states, guidelines apply only to divorces where the income threshold is below a certain amount.

The courts in some states have a great deal of leeway to determine the amount of alimony, depending on precedent but still relying on their judgment. Paying alimony does not usually result in a lower net income for the paying spouse than the receiving spouse.

Alimony enforcement

It may be harder to enforce alimony than other court orders, such as child support, even though it is legally binding. Even so, recipients have legal recourse if they don't receive what the court ordered.

Alimony and child support can often leave one or both spouses struggling with unpaid debt. SoloSuit can help. Visit our website today to explore your options.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

Respond with SoloSuit

Get Started

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

We have answers

Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.

Get Started

Win against credit card companies

Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

Get answers to these FAQs

Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

SoloSuit FAQ

If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

What is a Stipulated Judgment?

What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

What Is a Warrant in Debt?

How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

Does Student Debt Die With You?

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

Learn More With These Additional Resources:

Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

How to Liquidate Debt

Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

ClearPoint Debt Management Review

Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

How to Appear in Court by Phone

How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

How to Stop a Garnishment

Debt Eraser Review

Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

How Long Does a Judgement Last?

​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court

Not sued yet?

Use our Debt Validation Letter.

Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.

Let's Do It

It only takes 15 minutes.

And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.

"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather

Get Started