Alabama Alimony and Spousal Support Laws
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Alimony is an award of money at divorce meant to help a party who does not have sufficient income or assets to be self-supporting. Alabama courts may grant alimony payments and will consider the assets of each spouse and the length of the marriage when determining amount and duration of payments.
Types of Spousal Support
- Temporary or Short-Term – can be awarded for shorter marriages if one spouse needs support for a limited amount of time.
- Long-Term or Permanent – usually awarded for long-term marriages of ten or more years. Alimony ceases in Alabama upon death of either party or remarriage of the payee spouse.
Who is Eligible for Alimony in Alabama
Any person who was married and is getting divorced in Alabama may seek alimony during the divorce proceedings. The court will be most likely to grant alimony to a party whose income or assets are not sufficient for self-support.
Alabama Alimony Guidelines (Factors for Awarding Alimony)
Alabama Code Sections 30-2-51 to 30-2-55 provide the following guidelines for awarding alimony:
- The court may grant alimony at its discretion.
- The court will consider the financial status of the parties in determining whether to grant alimony and the amount of alimony to grant.
- The court may not consider property acquired prior to marriage or by gift or bequest during marriage unless income from the property was used during the marriage for the common benefit of both parties.
- Retirement benefits may be considered as part of a spouse’s estate when determining alimony if the marriage lasted at least ten years, and retirement was accumulating during the marriage.
- The court may not include retirement benefits accrued prior to marriage or any interest from those benefits in the spouse’s estate.
- The amount of the retirement benefits payable to a non-covered spouse may not exceed 50 percent of the retirement benefits considered by the court.
- Parties may agree to a lump sum settlement, or if the court grants payment from a spouse’s retirement benefits not yet received by that spouse, the non-covered spouse will be entitled to payment from those benefits only once the covered spouse receives them.
Reasons for Termination or Modification of Alimony in Alabama
Alimony may be modified by an Alabama court if the spouse receiving alimony remarries or cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex. The spouse paying alimony must petition the court for a modification, and the court has discretion to grant a termination or modification.
Marital Fault in Alabama
Alabama divorce courts will take fault into consideration when determining alimony. If the court finds one party to be at fault, the judge may make an additional allowance to the other spouse. Misconduct of either spouse may be considered in determining the amount of alimony. Property acquired prior to marriage or by inheritance or gift during marriage may not be considered in determining the amount of alimony payments.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last in Alabama?
The court will determine duration of alimony payments when it orders the payments. The payments must be paid for that amount of time unless the paying party seeks a modification or termination and the court grants it.
Alabama Alimony Taxes
Alabama alimony is deductible by the paying spouse and recognized as income by the receiving spouse. Lump sum alimony is considered property distribution and normally has no tax implications. To learn more about how alimony will impact your taxes, consult an attorney.
Find an Alimony Attorney in Alabama
To protect your interests and learn more about your rights during divorce, consult an Alabama attorney. A family law attorney will help you navigate this difficult process by advocating on your behalf and handling the necessary paperwork.