If you are getting a divorce in Alabama, alimony is one of the issues you are probably wondering about.
Alimony, also called spousal support, is often one of the contested issues that people encounter during their divorce proceeding.
Here, our divorce lawyers will discuss Alabama alimony laws and some other things you should know to determine whether alimony payments might be part of your divorce agreement.
What Is Alimony?
Alimony is a series of payments that one spouse must pay to another after a divorce.
Not all divorces involve alimony. Your divorce will involve alimony only if you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce and include alimony as part of the agreement or if the court orders it based on your circumstances.
Courts award alimony based on the financial needs of the lesser earning spouse.
One spouse may have to pay alimony to the lesser earning spouse for a period of time while the lesser earning spouse goes through job training or finishes school.
Types of Alimony in Alabama
Alabama alimony laws were recently changed to make permanent alimony more rare and to set a five-year limit on the time period for which courts may order alimony in most cases.
There are three types of alimony in Alabama.
Interim support is a series of temporary payments from one spouse to another while the divorce is pending.
These payments could help the lesser earning spouse adjust as their financial situation changes because of the divorce.
Maybe one spouse has moved out of their living situation with the other spouse and now needs temporary support to adjust to the additional costs.
Interim support payments stop once you finalize your divorce. Courts award interim support based on the petitioning spouse’s need as well as the other spouse’s ability to pay.
The other common type of spousal support in Alabama is periodic alimony.
The lesser earning spouse receives periodic alimony payments at regular intervals, such as every two weeks or every month.
The payments usually last only while the receiving spouse completes some sort of preparation to re-enter the workforce and become self-supporting.
For example, if one spouse stopped working to take care of children, they may require periodic alimony while they learn the new skills required to start working again.
Courts usually award periodic alimony for a maximum of five years following the divorce.
In rare cases, if the judge determines that the circumstances require it, periodic alimony can be awarded for up to the length of time that the couple was married.
Permanent alimony in Alabama is rare. Courts typically award permanent alimony only when one spouse is disabled and cannot become financially independent after a divorce.
In addition, Alabama courts award permanent alimony only if the marriage lasted more than 20 years.
Calculating Alimony in Alabama
The judge has discretion in determining the amount of alimony payments, regardless of the type of alimony.
While there is no Alabama alimony calculator that will determine the exact amount of alimony you or your spouse will receive, judges consider a number of factors when deciding how much alimony is appropriate.
Reason for the Divorce
You can still claim fault grounds in a divorce in Alabama. If a couple filed for divorce on fault grounds, this may affect alimony.
For example, if your spouse cheated on you, and you can prove that the cheating caused you to want to divorce them, you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
An adulterous spouse may receive a smaller alimony award if they are the receiving spouse. A judge may also order an adulterous spouse to pay larger alimony payments.
Length of Marriage
How many years do you have to be married in the state of Alabama to get alimony? The answer is technically that it does not matter.
A court can award alimony regardless of the length of the marriage, as long as the requesting spouse can establish a need.
However the longer the marriage was, the more likely it is that one spouse adjusted to the extra financial support of married life and will need assistance while re-adjusting to life after the divorce.
As we mentioned, permanent alimony is awarded only in certain situations where the marriage lasted more than 20 years.
Depending on the divorce agreement, one spouse may end up with more financial responsibility for raising and caring for children.
If a child happens to have special needs, that can also affect that spouse’s ability to hold down a job while caring for the child. A judge can take these circumstances into account in calculating alimony.
Judges consider numerous other factors when awarding alimony in Alabama.
These factors include:
- Earning capabilities of each spouse;
- What assets each spouse has;
- Age and health of each spouse; and
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage.
This is not an exhaustive list. A judge can consider any other factor that they find relevant when awarding spousal support in Alabama.
Contact Our Birmingham, AL Divorce Lawyers Today
Dagney Johnson Law Group is ready to answer any questions you have about Alabama alimony laws.
We take a personal approach to every issue, so you can feel confident that your voice will be heard and that we will fight for what is most important to you.