How does alimony work? (Guide 2022) – Forbes Advisor

Child support laws vary from state to state. Most have similar overarching rules about how individuals apply for child support and how the courts treat them. Spousal support is typically part of divorce proceedings, but spouses who are still married but separated can also apply for spousal support in most states.

What is the process for receiving child support payments?

In order for alimony to be ordered, one or both spouses must apply to the court for it. Usually this is stated in the original application document for divorce, e.g. B. in the divorce application or in the dissolution application. Alimony can be agreed through settlement or mediation, or the couple can take the matter to court, where the judge will decide.

Child support payments are usually decided after issues of custody, child support and property division have been settled or determined. Temporary alimony payments can also be granted early in the divorce proceedings to provide provisional support to the penniless spouse until the final divorce decree is issued.

How long does alimony last?

Child support payments can be structured to last for a specific period of time or until a specific milestone is reached. It is common for a judge to order alimony for one-third or one-half of the marriage’s duration. In cases where the receiving spouse is elderly or disabled, alimony may apply for the lifetime of that spouse. Alimony could also be ordered as a one-off flat rate.

Some states set maximum lengths of alimony based on factors such as length of marriage, while others allow judges more discretion. Unless otherwise agreed, maintenance ends upon the recipient’s remarriage or the death of one of the parties. Alimony payments can be altered by the court to reflect changes in circumstances long after a divorce, e.g. B. When the recipient enters into a financially supportive relationship with another person.

What are the different types of alimony?

Most states break alimony into at least a few different types, each with its own purpose and duration. Although states define these differently, there is significant overlap in the way they are often categorized. Common to the states is the maintenance payment, which is structured according to a certain period of time for which support is deemed necessary. Also common is rehabilitation alimony, where payments are made to allow the recipient to receive education, training, or work experience to enable them to support themselves.

Many states allow permanent child support for disabled, elderly, or chronically ill spouses. At the other end of the spectrum, many also describe short-term or temporary forms of alimony that meet only very limited needs during or immediately after a divorce.

Alimony payments are also available in some states, which compensate for a spouse’s specific contributions to their marriage (often to help the other spouse’s education or the growth of a business or professional practice), possibly even through a one-time alimony payment.

Is alimony taxable?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017 changed the tax treatment of child support payments. For divorces completed in 2019 and later, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the party paying and are no longer considered taxable income for the recipient. This also affects some divorces that preceded 2019 but were amended in 2019 or later.

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