Understanding Alimony, Spousal Support and Maintenance
Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is financial support paid by one spouse to the other. Because each state determines alimony differently, it is important to consult with an attorney in your state to determine what factors the court considers when deciding if, how much and to whom alimony will be paid.
There are essentially three types of alimony: permanent alimony, reimbursement alimony and rehabilitative alimony. Permanent alimony is an allowance for support and maintenance (such as food, clothing, housing and other necessities) of a spouse. When a party requests permanent alimony, he or she must establish his or her need for support and that his or her spouse has the ability to provide for part or all of the need. Reimbursement and rehabilitative alimony are paid for a shorter period and most likely provide less than the standard of living during the marriage. Rehabilitative alimony is designed to provide the means necessary to enable a spouse to refresh or enhance job skills necessary to become self-sufficient and to provide financial support while the spouse is obtaining necessary training.
The types of factors the courts consider vary from state to state. In fault-based states the respective fault of the parties may be considered in awarding alimony. Other factors include the length of the marriage and each party’s financial condition, age, health, education and employment opportunities. Of all the issues that need to be resolved to dissolve a marriage, alimony and property division are often the most difficult issues to negotiate successfully.