Alimony, also called spousal support, is the payment of an agreed upon amount of money from one spouse to the other after a divorce in Alabama. Multiple factors affect the amount of alimony awarded and the length of time it must be paid. Length of marriage, each party’s financial situation, the reason for divorce, and the standard of living during the marriage can all affect if alimony is to be awarded. Although none of these things necessarily disqualify either spouse from receiving alimony, these factors do directly affect the type of alimony a person can receive. In the State of Alabama, a person is most likely to receive rehabilitative alimony, but the type of alimony awarded is decided on a case-by-case basis.
Rehabilitative alimony is the most common type of alimony in Alabama. Rehabilitative alimony is basically one party financially supplementing the other so the less fortunate party can increase their income while not deviating from the standard of living they are used to. The purpose of rehabilitative alimony is to supplement one party while they advance their career or generate more income. This is done in order to encourage self-sufficiency and the State of Alabama generally limits the amount of time rehabilitative alimony must be paid to five years. After these five years, each spouse should have the ability to support themselves and the lifestyle they choose to live.
Usually, this type of alimony is awarded when there is a large income disparity between spouses, as in the case of a stay-at-home parent and a working parent. Since one party has no income and a gap in their job history, rehabilitative alimony may be ordered to supplement this party while he or she finds a job and begins earning an income. Even in the case of both parties working full time, if one party makes a substantial amount more than the other, rehabilitative alimony may be ordered while the party with the lower income attempts to further their career or earn more income.
Factors in Determining Spousal Support
Depending on the length and circumstances of a marriage, a judge may decide one party needs more than just rehabilitative alimony. A court in Alabama cannot generally impose alimony for longer than the length of the marriage, and the most basic standard is that a party should receive one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. While in most cases alimony ends after a certain amount of time, a longer marriage may result in extended periods of alimony payments. In fact, in marriages lasting longer than twenty years, one spouse may be awarded indefinite alimony. This is especially true if one spouse is considered too advanced to start a new career, or if they are permanently disabled and unable to gain employment.
There are numerous factors a judge may look at when deciding whether or not alimony should be awarded and how much one party should pay. The length of marriage is one of the biggest factors a judge considers before awarding alimony. For example, a couple that has been married fifteen years is more likely to be awarded alimony than a couple that has been married for five years. Another factor a judge may consider is the reason the couple is getting divorced. While the payment of alimony can result from any divorce, an at-fault divorce may cause one party to pay more in alimony than they would have in a no fault or uncontested divorce.
For example, if one spouse commits adultery, a court may find this spouse “at fault” for the breakdown of the marriage. In such a case, he or she may have to pay more in alimony. A judge will also determine the ability of each party to support themselves. A physically disabled person who is unable to work will be viewed as needing more financial assistance than someone who is healthy and able to work.
While alimony can seem complicated, it is often necessary in order for one party of a divorce to become independent, financially stable, and self-sufficient. If you’re considering filing for divorce and have questions about alimony, it is imperative that you contact a local Birmingham divorce attorney to discuss this complicated matter further.
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