When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal support or alimony payments. Alimony is financial assistance provided from one spouse to the other after the end of the marriage, and it is separate from any payments made for child support due to the nature of the child custody agreement. Alimony in designed to preserve the economic situation of both parties as it existed during the marriage.
How Do You Qualify for Alimony?
To receive alimony payments, one spouse must prove they have a financial need and that the other spouse is able to pay. You do not need to be unemployed to receive alimony payments. The judge presiding over the divorce uses several factors to determine whether to order alimony payments. In Alabama, the most important factor is the length of the marriage and long-term alimony payments are rarely awarded in marriages of under 12 years. It's also important to note that the court may award alimony even if neither party requests it.
How Much Alimony Can You Receive?
Alimony in Alabama can either be one lump sum payment or a temporary series of payments. There is no set formula or limit for awarding alimony. Unless agreed to by the parties, the judge will decide how much alimony should be paid according to the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s earning potential
- The age and health of the spouses
- The value and type of the property owned by the spouses
- Conduct of the parties during the marriage (Alabama allows misconduct by the parties to influence alimony awards)
- Any other factors the court deems relevant
While every case is different based on the factors listed above, but alimony awards in the United States can be quite high with some awards exceeding 1.3 million.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
The duration of alimony payments in Alabama is determined by the judge according to the factors listed above. However, alimony payments will end if either spouse dies, or if the spouse receiving payments remarries or chooses to cohabitate with another.
How Do You Petition for Alimony?
Alimony should be requested at the very beginning of the divorce action in either the Divorce Complaint or Answer to Divorce Complaint depending on if you or your spouse is filing the action. If you don’t make a request for alimony you may lose your ability to receive it permanently. If you fail to request alimony at the start of the action, the court may still allow you to request it later but this may require additional paperwork and could prolong the divorce proceeding. In addition, failing to raise the issue of alimony early in the process could prevent you from receiving temporary spousal support during the divorce process. To calculate the final alimony award, the court will require both parties to provide a full financial accounting of their individual income and assets.
Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?
Divorce actions tend to be some of the most contentious legal cases and alimony awards can be quite significant. It is important to have a skilled attorney to advocate for you in this process. If you are looking for an attorney to help you with your alimony related issues, then contact a local Alabama family lawyer today.