All About Spousal Support – Part 1

Spousal Support – What you need to know

Spousal support, also known as alimony, consists of payments from one spouse to another when they are separated or divorced. Spousal support is an idea that is deeply ingrained in human society. Almost 4000 years ago, the Code of Hammurabi set forth rules for spousal support. In ancient times, alimony could only be paid to women. In the modern day, however, both men and women receive alimony, and the stigma once carried by alimony payments has largely disappeared. So, what do you need to know about spousal support?

Spousal support - envelope with cash

Differences between spousal support and child support

There are a few important differences between child support and spousal support, even though both are usually payments from one separated or divorced spouse to the other. First off, the taxes on child support are generally paid by the party paying the support, while alimony payments count as income for the party receiving them, and are taxed as such. Also, alimony payments are discretionary, which means a judge has a lot of leeway in how they base their decision to award the support. This can be risky for either party, and makes alimony generally harder to predict than child support.

The four types of spousal support

  • Temporary Alimony – Temporary alimony is paid while the couple is separated, but not yet divorced. You need not wait until you are divorced to receive spousal support. In fact, temporary alimony can be critical, as the lower earning spouse has had little opportunity to consider how they are going to support themselves outside the marriage.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony – Rehabilitative alimony is awarded to the lower earning spouse in order to give them a chance to get work and become self sufficient.
  • Reimbursement Alimony – Reimbursement alimony is awarded to compensate one spouse for an expense they shouldered during the marriage. A common example of this is if one spouse supported the other financially while they earned a degree or professional certification.
  • Permanent Alimony – Also known as open-ended alimony. Permanent alimony continues until one party dies, or until the receiving party remarries. Permanent alimony is rare compared to the other three types, and is generally only considered after a long marriage.

Check back soon for part 2!