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Alimony: Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities

Alimony or spousal support is a frequent point of contention in divorces yet most people don’t fully understand how it’s determined. This article is an exploration of alimony in Alabama, and will examine its various forms, how it is calculated, and the eligibility criteria. Understanding alimony is as relevant to the person paying as it is to the person receiving it. It has a direct impact on your quality of life after your divorce.

What is Alimony?

Alimony is frequently referred to as “spousal support.” At its core, it is a financial arrangement where one spouse supports the other financially during and/or after a divorce. Its primary aim is to help both parties maintain a standard of living post-separation that is comparable to when they lived together as a married couple.

The idea is that both people should be able to continue living somewhat like they did when they were married. Alimony is supposed to level the playing field and prevent the monied spouse from walking away from the marriage and leaving the other without a means to support themselves. This financial aid is frequently supposed to result in the recipient receiving some support for some period of time, as they work towards self-sufficiency, rather than as a permanent subsidy.

Types of Alimony

There are three main types of alimony:

  • Temporary Alimony
  • Permanent Alimony
  • Rehabilitative Alimony

Temporary alimony offers support during the divorce proceedings. Permanent alimony may be granted when one spouse needs long-term assistance and the parties have been married for at least 20 years. Rehabilitative alimony, which is most common, lasts for a period specified by the court and is usually intended to help until the receiving spouse can support themselves by finding a job or returning to school. Some people may read that and get concerned that the receiving spouse has no reason to do either as long as they receive alimony. 

People can be viewed as voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, and this is a conversation you should have with your attorney because the court may impute income. Imputed income refers to income that a court assumes a person could earn based on their employment history, education, skills, and local job opportunities, even if they are not currently earning that amount. 

Calculating Alimony

Unlike child support, there’s no strict formula for alimony. Factors considered include each spouse’s earning potential, age, health, financial needs, pre-marriage, and marital assets and liabilities. The court also looks at the lifestyle during the marriage, aiming to allow both spouses to maintain a similar standard of living.

The specifics of alimony—how much and for how long—are influenced by how long the marriage lasted, each spouse’s financial situation, and their ability to earn money after the divorce. When determining alimony, courts look at the standard of living established during the marriage. The initial alimony award can always be modified. You and your attorney can petition for the court to change the terms if you experience significant changes in your circumstances. Common examples of this would include changes in income or getting remarried. 

Navigating Alimony with Empowered Family Law

The complexities of alimony require careful consideration and understanding. At Empowered Family Law, we’re committed to guiding you through the intricacies of alimony, ensuring you understand your rights and options. If you’re facing divorce and have concerns about alimony, contact us today. We’re here to provide the support and advice you need to move forward confidently.

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Empowered Family Law, PC

With Empowered Family Law, you get an advocate who sees difficulties as opportunities for growth and emphasizes healing and problem-solving no matter how challenging your case.

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