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Life Events :  Divorce

Alimony Payments

Divorce
Alimony Payments

Alimony is very different from child support. It's not calculated with some mathematical formula provided by the state. Alimony payments are determined by a variety of complex factors that make up a marriage. And the rules regarding alimony vary from state to state, so a judge has a lot to consider before he or she makes a decision.

1) What is Alimony?

Alimony is the amount of money your ex-husband legally has to pay you -- or you pay him -- under a divorce or separation agreement. The IRS allows a tax deduction for the person paying it. Otherwise it's treated as taxable income.

Alimony may be awarded in the form of permanent, temporary, lump sum, or rehabilitive alimony. Some payments are even tied to a spouse's income or salary.

There are several factors that determine the amount and extent of your alimony payments, including:

  • The length of your marriage.
  • Your financial lifestyle.
  • Documented personal expenses.
  • Tax consequences.
  • Your ability to work.
  • Your conduct.

2) Requirements

  • Alimony payments must be in cash or a cash equivalent.

  • Alimony payments can't be made if you and your ex-husband are living together.

  • If you're paying alimony, you can't claim a tax deduction when filing a joint tax return.

  • Alimony payments stop when the spouse (on the receiving end) dies or remarries.

3) Qualifications

How much you actually receive or have to pay depends on the laws of the state in which you live. Most states consider the needs of each spouse and their ability to pay. Other states first determine marital fault and then go from there.

The following situations might affect the outcome of your alimony settlement:

Possibility (for payment)

  • You've been financially dependent on your spouse for a long period of time.

  • You supported your husband while he was in school full-time.

  • You're a full-time mother who has been out of the workforce for many years. 

  • You're a full-time mother who has never held a job outside the home.

  • Your income is significantly less than your husband's.

  • You've been married over 10 years.


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