Spousal Support, also referred to as alimony, is money paid from one spouse to the other in the event of divorce or legal separation. Most often, the more financially stable spouse is the one obligated to pay alimony. Generally, alimony is awarded in situations where one partner gave up a career to be a primary caregiver, provide education, or contributed property to the relationship.

How Alimony Calculators Work

The calculated amount of alimony is determined by multiple factors, but most states consider the following:

  • Gross income
  • Net income 
  • Your spouse’s gross income
  • Your spouse’s net income
  • Child support paid for prior relationships
  • Amount of child support paid for your children
  • Length of the marriage or union

Check out an online calculator specific to your state or use a general alimony calculator to estimate your payment amount.

Differences by State

Oftentimes, alimony payments are temporary and are only held in place until the co-parent can stabilize their income enough to support themselves. Other termination clauses include the death of the spouse, remarriage of the receiving spouse, or a standard time limit. 

In some cases, alimony concerns need to be raised before the divorce is finalized. Ex-spouses can either define the alimony payments in an agreement or have them be court-ordered. Some states will not allow an alimony agreement to be modified in the future, so a court-ordered agreement maybe your best option.

It’s important to get familiar with the alimony rules applicable in your state. Each state has unique laws surrounding financial support terms. Consequently, these rules can have a big impact on the outcome of your personal situation.  Additionally, each separation case is evaluated on an individual basis. Only a few states still grant permanent alimony—New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina, West Virginia, Florida, and Oregon.  There are some states that even prohibit alimony if the spouse receiving it has performed adultery or marital misconduct. Know the rules that apply to you!

What Else Should I Know About Alimony?

Alimony payments can be made monthly or paid as a lump sum. This decision should be discussed with a tax advisor, as paying a lump sum may have tax implications. As of 2019, the paying spouse may not exclude alimony payments from their taxable income. In turn, the receiving spouse no longer has to pay taxes on the amount they receive.  These decisions need to be included in any post-divorce financial planning. Likewise, it’s also important to remember that child support payments always take precedence over spousal support. 

All of these questions and more can be answered by speaking with a divorce or child support lawyer.

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