Alimony is support paid from one spouse to the other after they separate.
Who can get alimony? In order for the court to award alimony, the judge must find that during the marriage one spouse was the supporting spouse and the other was the dependent spouse. This is usually based on the relative incomes of the two spouses. A supporting spouse is defined as a spouse upon whom the other spouse is actually substantially dependent for maintenance and support or from whom such spouse is substantially in need of maintenance and support. A dependent spouse is one who is actually substantially dependent upon the other spouse for his or her maintenance and support or is substantially in need of maintenance and support from the other spouse.
How much alimony is enough? Unlike child support, there are no statutory guidelines setting forth recommended alimony amounts. The amount a judge will order is based on the monthly needs and expenses of both spouses, as well as the incomes of both spouses. If the supporting spouse has extra money at the end of the month and the dependent spouse has a shortfall, the judge will probably order alimony to help the dependent spouse fill the gap.
How is alimony paid? Alimony can be paid in a lump sum, or on a periodic basis (such as monthly payments). It can be awarded for a specific duration of time or permanently. Permanent alimony is paid until either spouse dies, or until the dependent spouse remarries or cohabitates.
Is marital fault relevant? Elements of marital fault such as adultery, physical abuse and indignities can be considered by the judge. However, increasingly alimony is based upon the income, needs and expenses of both parties.