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726 - Can I Get Alimony?

Alimony is designed to provide the lower‑income spouse with money for living expenses over and above the money provided by child support. Alimony is different from child support. Where child support is a simple mathematical calculation using guidelines published by the state, alimony is very much in the discretion of the judge.

There are several factors a judge considers when deciding whether to grant alimony. These are the parties' relative ability to earn money, both now and in the future; their respective ages, and their heath; the length of the marriage; the kind of property involved, and the conduct of the parties. In general, about the only time a judge will award alimony in Alabama is where one spouse has been economically dependent on the other spouse for most of a lengthy marriage.

Alimony gets treated differently from child support for purposes of your tax return. Alimony is tax deductible to the person who pays it, and included in the taxable income of the person who receives it. Child support, by contrast, is not taxable to the person who receives it and not tax deductible to the person who pays it. That means that when you and your spouse have dramatically different incomes, there may be some tax advantages to using alimony, even if a judge wouldn't ordinarily award it.

If you think alimony may make sense for you, you might want to set up a coaching session with me to think through how an award of alimony might affect your after‑tax income, looking at several different scenarios. Then you and your spouse can negotiate with full knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages to each of you.

One other thing about alimony. In Alabama, we have some quirky terminology, and it can be really confusing. You'll hear lawyers and judges talking about alimony in gross. That's just another word for property settlement. Alimony in gross gets treated just like property settlement for tax purposes and for bankruptcy purposes. Remember, alimony in gross may sound like taxable alimony but is completely different from it.

Alabama Family Law Center serves clients who need to get through divorce and who are able to be reasonably cooperative. The goal is for both spouses to survive divorce and move on with their lives with some money in their pockets and their dignity intact.

No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

If you'd like to make an appointment with me, call 205-979-6960. Or you can click here to return to the Divorce Line.

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