3step divo
navigation bar toggler
DIY Divorce Guide

Info About Spousal Support and Alimony | 3 Step Divorce

Complete divorce guide with state requirements and laws.
start here for only $84*


Alimony, also known as spousal support, is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other after the marriage ends. Alimony compensates the spouse who may have stayed home caring for children, as a way to help learn a skill set to get back into the workforce to be able to maintain a certain quality of life after divorce. Alimony is a way to alleviate any financial negative effect the divorce may have on a spouse who has not been in the workforce for the duration of the marriage. Spouses who are filing a pro se divorce may negotiate spousal support and agree upon a monthly amount they feel is fair. There are no specific state guidelines that determine support for a spouse because each divorce case is unique in the fact that other property and debt distribution is part of the equation.

Temporary Alimony

To get temporary alimony (alimony pendente lite) there must be a physical separation. This is financial support that is paid up until the time of the divorce being finalized. Most uncontested divorces do not require this, because the length of time before the divorce is finalized is much shorter since there are no disputes to settle. Either spouse can ask the court to award alimony. Alimony pendente lite can be granted by the court while the divorce is in progress. When the divorce becomes final, there may or may not be an order for alimony and the payment can be higher or lower than the temporary award.

Negotiating Alimony

Negotiating with a partner about alimony may provide more flexibly than letting the court decide the terms and conditions of an award. When one of the parties in a divorce or separation wants alimony but the other party does not agree, the judge decides if an alimony award should be made and if so, for how much. Unlike child support calculations, judges have discretion in making the award. Negotiated alimony agreements between partners must be approved by the court, just like all other terms in the divorce.

Alimony Tax Consequences

Alimony carries tax implications for both the payor and the recipient. Before seeking alimony, a party should meet with a tax professional to discuss the tax implications of alimony. Alimony is taxable income to the recipient, but the paying spouse does not withhold taxes, so the recipient faces a tax bill. The paying party can deduct payments on a federal tax return; however, there may be complicated hurdles to claim the deduction. IRS publication 504 provides information about the tax implications of alimony. The deductibility of alimony on state taxes is determined by state law, which varies.

Alimony Wage Garnishment

The recipient can arrange for alimony payments to be automatically deducted from a former spouse’s paycheck. When permitted in the jurisdiction, the court issues an order garnishing a former spouse’s paycheck and deducting alimony payments. The employer forwards that money to the court, which makes payment to the recipient. Automatic payments eliminate the uncertainty of whether or when the former spouse will make payments. Keep in mind that not all state require this and many uncontested divorces do not include wage garnishment.

Determining Alimony

The purpose of alimony is both necessary and reasonable support to a spouse who requires it. When a party wants alimony, he or she can ask for alimony as part of a divorce proceeding. If the spouses reach an agreement about alimony, they can ask the judge to make the agreement a part of the court order. If they cannot reach an agreement, the judge decides whether a spouse is entitled to alimony and how much.

A party who does not ask for alimony during the divorce may not ask later after the divorce case is over.

Spouses can agree to include the duration of alimony arrangement in the court order, but if they agree, the judge will always have the final say as to what is appropriate. Judges may ask questions, but also realize that spouse know their financial situation better than anyone. Also, courts seldom award indefinite alimony or permanent alimony, which lasts until either spouse dies or until the court determines that alimony is no longer appropriate. Rehabilitative alimony lasts for a limited time, as determined by the couple or judge, for example, to allow the receiving spouse to obtain work experience or training necessary to compete in the workforce.

Remarriage can terminate alimony, but it does not automatically end with remarriage.

Parties who agree to any alimony arrangement should have it be part of the divorce so it is a court order. If there is not a written agreement or a court order, the obligated spouse can stop paying alimony to the receiving spouse at any time. As long as alimony is court ordered, if a former spouse falls behind in alimony payments, the recipient can file a motion for contempt and ask the court to take steps to enforce the order.

There are several factors a judge will look at when determining and awarding alimony including whether or not a party can support himself or herself; how much time a party will need to find employment or whether or not a party needs training to obtain employment; the standard of living the party was accustom to during the marriage; how long the couple’s marriage lasted; circumstances surrounding the breakup of the marriage; the age and mental condition of each party; whether the other spouse can pay alimony and still support himself or herself; and the financial needs of each party including all sources of income. As a couple filing your own uncontested divorce, you should look at the same factors regarding spousal support and alimony and apply them to your situation.

arrow up

Customer Feedback (over 20+ years of it!)

trustpilot icon
Trust pilot
Based on 1,701 Reviews
previous feedbacks
We downloaded our paperwork on...
We downloaded our paperwork on a late Friday evening completed it and submitted it to the court next Tuesday morning. We only needed one question answered and the response was given within a day...
– Elizabeth J.
I have been so impressed with the...
I have been so impressed with the assistance I received. The response to my questions were quick and helpful. The process is easy to follow. I highly recommend the service...
– B. E.
Much easier than I expected
This was a lot easier than I anticipated! Difficult thing to go through but your process kept it from being any more stressful than it needs to be! Thank you!
– Jeff Miller
next feedbacks

Featured In

npr logo forbes logo cnn logo cnn logo