Sometimes an alimony award is for lifetime, but more usually, it is temporary. Alimony is a sum of money usually paid by one spouse to another spouse for the support and maintenance. Alimony is modifiable unless specifically provided otherwise.
II. Factors considered by the Court
There are 11 factors considered by the Court to determine alimony.
- The past relations and conduct of the parties.
- The length of the marriage.
- The ability of the parties to work.
- The source and amount of property awarded to the parties.
- The age of the parties.
- The ability of the parties to pay alimony.
- The present situation of the parties.
- The needs of the parties.
- The health of the parties.
- The prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others.
- General principles of equity.
III. Types of Alimony and Modification
Generally, if alimony is not granted, the Judgment of Divorce will either reserve the question of alimony or will state that neither party is entitled to alimony.
If the Court grants regular or “periodic alimony” that alimony is modifiable at any time, based upon a change in circumstances. This means that in the future, alimony might be raised, lowered, or terminated.
If the Court grants regular or periodic alimony, those monies are usually taxable to the recipient, and deductible by the payer. The words "payment until death" (or similar words) must be part of the alimony clause, if the payments are to be considered as taxable alimony.
"Alimony in Gross" is another kind of periodic payment that is not really support, but rather is an installment payment of a property settlement. This type of payment is not taxable to the recipient, is not deductible by the payer, and is not modifiable. This type of alimony is expressed as an amount certain. There will be no qualifying clauses such as "payable until remarriage".
IV. Tax Consequences
If the court awards regular or periodic alimony, those monies are usually taxable to the recipient, and deductible by the payer. Your attorney may answer your questions about the many tax consequences and restrictions in regard to alimony and Alimony in Gross or may refer you to an accountant. Tax laws and their interpretation change regularly, as well as State laws and their interpretations. Therefore, your attorney cannot guarantee any tax consequences resulting from your divorce proceedings and the Judgment of Divorce.
V. Payment of Alimony
In most cases alimony is paid through the Friend of the Court. The Friend of the Court will keep a record of these payments and help enforce the terms of the Judgment. An order of contempt is used to enforce payment of regular or periodic alimony. It is more difficult to enforce payment of Alimony in Gross.
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