Understand Alimony After Divorce: What You Need to Know

  •   |   Meghan Freed

background with a writer typing and alimony after divorce, what you need to know from a CT divorce attorneyIt’s crucial to understand how alimony works after divorce.  Whether you are the one seeking alimony or the one expected to pay it, knowing the ins and outs of this legal arrangement can help you make informed decisions and navigate the post-divorce landscape more effectively.  Read on as we will delve into the key aspects of alimony.  This includes its purpose, types, calculation methods, and factors that influence payment amount and duration.  By the end, you will better understand how alimony works.  In other words, you’ll be set up to approach your divorce and life after divorce with confidence and clarity.

What Is Alimony?

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a legal obligation that one spouse has to provide financial support to the other spouse after a divorce.  It is a way to address any economic disparity between the two parties after the divorce.  Corts can award alimony to either the husband or the wife.

Judges do not automatically grant alimony in every divorce case. They typically award it when one spouse has a significantly higher income or earning potential than the other spouse.  The purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a similar standard of living to what they had during the marriage, at least for a certain period of time.

Alimony can be temporary or permanent, depending on the case’s specific circumstances.  Courts award temporary alimony for a specific duration, usually until they anticipate that the receiving spouse will be self-supporting.  On the other hand, judges award permanent alimony rarely.  When they do, typically the receiving spouse cannot support themselves due to age, disability, or other factors.

Read: Alimony: The Comprehensive Connecticut Guide

Types of Alimony

There are several different types of alimony possible in a divorce case.  The type of alimony awarded will depend on various factors.  This can include the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the financial needs of the receiving spouse.  Here are some common types of alimony:

  • Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony is awarded to help the receiving spouse become self-supporting.  It is usually awarded for a specific period of time and may be contingent on the receiving spouse completing a specific education or training program.
  • Permanent Alimony: As the name suggests, permanent alimony is awarded indefinitely or until a specific event occurs, such as the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.  It is typically awarded in cases where the receiving spouse cannot become self-supporting due to age, disability, or other factors.
  • Lump-Sum Alimony: Lump-sum alimony is a one-time payment made by one spouse to the other.  It is often used when the paying spouse has a substantial amount of liquid assets or property that can be used to provide financial support to the receiving spouse.

How Courts Calculate Alimony

The calculation of alimony varies based on the specific circumstances of every case.  In Connecticut, the court considers various factors and uses its discretion to determine the amount and duration of alimony payments.

For example, courts may consider each spouse’s income and earning capacity, the marriage’s length, and the receiving spouse’s financial needs.  They may also consider the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the contributions made by each spouse.  Generally, the goal is to avoid the financial bottom dropping out from underneath the receiving spouse.

Duration of Alimony After Divorce

The duration of alimony payments can vary depending on the case’s specific circumstances.  In some cases, judges may award alimony for a specific duration, such as a few years.  It’s rare, but in other cases, the court may award alimony indefinitely, especially if the receiving spouse cannot support themselves due to age, disability, or other factors.

Regarding alimony after divorce, it’s important to note that you can modify or terminate the duration of payments under certain circumstances.  For example, judges may reduce or terminate alimony if the receiving spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner.  Similarly, if there are other significant changes in the financial circumstances of either spouse, the court may modify or eliminate the alimony payments.

Read: How Long Does Alimony Last?

Tax Implications of Alimony After Divorce

If the court finalized your divorce up to December 31, 2018, your alimony payments are likely tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the receiving spouse.  On the other hand, suppose the court finalized your divorce in 2019 or later.  In those cases, alimony payments are not tax-deductible for the paying spouse, and the receiving spouse does not need to include alimony as taxable income.  Consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of alimony in your situation fully.

Read: Tax Basics for Divorce

Modifying or Terminating Alimony Post Divorce

Under certain circumstances, you can modify or terminate alimony post-divorce.  In some cases, if there are significant changes in the financial circumstances of either spouse, such as a change in income or employment status, the court may modify or conclude the alimony payments.  Similarly, judges may reduce or terminate alimony if the receiving spouse remarries or moves in with a new partner.  This all set, it’s important to note that sometimes courts either can’t or won’t modify alimony.

It’s important to note that the process for modifying or terminating alimony post-judgment can vary depending on the divorce orders in each case.  In some cases, the divorce degree may permit the spouses to agree on the modification or termination of alimony outside of court.  In other cases, it may be necessary to petition the court to modify or terminate alimony after divorce.  It’s critical to speak with an experienced divorce and family attorney to make sure that you go through the proper process when changing alimony.  Otherwise, you may find yourself in contempt of court.

Read: How Does Remarriage or Cohabitation Impact Alimony in Connecticut?

Read: What Is a Motion for Modification?

Differences Between Alimony and Child Support

While alimony and child support are both financial obligations that arise from a divorce, there are critical differences between the two.  Alimony is intended to provide financial support to a spouse, whereas child support is intended to provide financial support for the children of the marriage.

Unlike alimony, child support is typically calculated based on specific guidelines the court provides.  The guidelines consider factors such as the income of each parent, the number of children, and the custody arrangement.  Child support aims to ensure that the children have the financial support necessary to meet their needs.  The process for terminating or ending child support payments is different than the process of terminating or ending alimony.

Read: What Is Child Support?

Common Misconceptions About Alimony

Several common misconceptions about alimony are important to address.  One common misconception is that courts award alimony in every divorce case.  In reality, courts do not automatically grant alimony.  They typically only order alimony in cases where there is a significant disparity in income or earning capacity between spouses.

Another misconception is that alimony is a punishment for the paying spouse.  Although the cause of the marriage breakdown can be one of the factors courts consider in the financial aspects of a divorce, alimony is generally not intended to punish one spouse or reward the other.  Generally speaking, Connecticut’s intention for alimony is to address any economic disparity that may arise as a result of the divorce.  This helps support the lower-earning spouse’s standard of living post-divorce.

Watch: CT Alimony Myths

Importance of Consulting with a Family Law Attorney

The issues involved in alimony after divorce are complex.  Therefore, it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.  A family lawyer can provide the information you need to decide whether to pursue changes to alimony post-divorce.  Plus, a family law attorney can guide you through the process, help you understand your options, and advocate for your best interests.

Read: When Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney?

Read: Top Tips on How to Hire an Attorney?

Next Steps

Understanding alimony after divorce is essential for anyone going through the divorce process or who is already post-divorce.  By knowing the purpose of alimony, the types available, the factors considered when determining payments, and the tax implications, you can approach your divorce and life after divorce with confidence and clarity.

Remember that alimony is not automatic in every divorce case, and its calculation varies based on each couple’s specific circumstances. One of Freed Marcroft’s family law attorneys can provide you with the guidance you need to navigate the complexities of alimony and move you forward toward your goals.  Reach out.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC