Are You Entitled To Alimony (Spousal Support)?
In some Divorce cases one spouse could potentially be awarded what is called “Alimony.” Alimony is the payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse. The Alimony could be given in a lump sum or on a month to month basis. Alimony is paid to what is called the “dependent” spouse by the “supporting” spouse.
A dependent spouse is determined by the courts based upon which spouse brings home the smaller pay check. Meaning, that this spouse would be dependent on the other one to help him or her with maintenance and support. In New Hampshire, the courts will use these three factors to determine whether or not Alimony will be awarded:
- The spouse does not have sufficient income or property to provide for his or her needs.
- The spouse is financially stable to support both spouses.
- The spouse is not able to support themselves, or the spouse has responsibilities to the child that prohibit them from being able to seek employment outside of the household.
Once the court has awarded Alimony, the next step is determining how much Alimony the spouse will be awarded. In New Hampshire, there is no formula for determining how much Alimony will be awarded. Instead they will use these factors to determine how much Alimony will be awarded to the spouse:
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age, health, sources of income, economic status and employment of each spouse.
- Any property that has been awarded to each spouse during the divorce.
- Any future opportunity for each spouse to acquire assets and income.
These are the basic factors that the court will use. However, there have been instances where the court has used factors that are unique to certain cases. If one spouse committed adultery, was abusive to the other spouse, or abused alcohol have all been factors taken into consideration when determining Alimony. These have been taken into consideration because any of these characteristics may have prohibited one spouse from being able to seek employment, which hindered them from having any form income.
Another factor a judge might look at is the how much each spouse has contributed financially to the family or in ways the spouse has contributed non-financially. For instance, if one spouse opted to stay home and take care of the children and household, this would be a huge non-financial contribution, but a judge will hold this to the same importance as the spouse that is earning the income for the household.
In New Hampshire, there are two ways to receive Alimony. The judge may award Alimony in a lump sum. This circumstance is less likely. Another way to receive Alimony is in monthly installments. A judge is more likely to award Alimony in monthly installments. any time either spouse can ask the court to modify the Alimony order. This can be due to changes in the financial situation of either spouse, making the Alimony payments no longer fair. However, payment of Alimony cannot be avoided by voluntarily quitting your job. If the courts see this, the judge may order Alimony based on the earning capacity and not the actual income of the spouse.
There are 5 different types of Alimony; the first one is Temporary Alimony. Temporary Alimony is when the couple is separated but not yet divorced. The Alimony could be for divorce costs, daily expenses, or other necessities. This payment will go on until the judge determines permanent alimony. Permanent Alimony is another type of alimony. This is the amount that is awarded after the divorce proceedings, which will be paid on a regular and recurring basis. The third type of alimony is Rehabilitative Alimony. This type of alimony is awarded the ex- spouse may not be self- sufficient. The judge may award this while the spouse is job-searching, or going to school to expand their job skills. Rehabilitative Alimony will usually only be awarded for a fixed period of time. The fourth type of Alimony is Reimbursement Alimony. This is to support one of the spouses in furthering their education. This type of alimony will go towards tuition costs for one of the spouses. The last type of Alimony is Lump-sum Alimony, as I mentioned earlier. This type of alimony is less common. Lump-sum Alimony could be awarded if one spouse does not want any property or valuable items from the marriage, the judge may order Lump-sum Alimony in lieu of the property or valuable items the spouse chose not to take.
An important fact about Alimony is that it is tax deductible to the paying spouse. The spouse receiving the income can include the Alimony as income on their taxes.