Spousal Support / Alimony 11

One of the things a prenuptial agreement can do is address certain financial support in the event of a divorce.

Alimony 101

Alimony (also known as spousal support) is an amount paid by one spouse to another after a divorce to allow the lower-income spouse to continue meeting certain living expenses. Unlike child support, alimony isn’t guaranteed and the amount is at the discretion of the judge.

Using a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can outline alimony payments or waive them altogether (although, a few states don’t recognize the waiver and many others scrutinize it closely before declaring it to be valid).

A Good Idea

Despite popular opinion, alimony can be a good thing. It is tax deductible and is considered income to the receiving party. That means that if one party has a considerably larger income than the other, it could be considered a tax advantage to both parties to allocate alimony.

When you create an alimony provision in a prenuptial agreement, you prevent the court from awarding it anyway and setting its own amount.

Things You Need to Know

To qualify, alimony must be paid in cash – no property or debt assumption “trade-off” – and should generally be paid in similar amounts each year. Alimony that is paid heavily the first two years and then tapers off thereafter is often considered to be “front-loaded” and can result in the paying spouse having to reclaim the funds and pay taxes on the amount. This “excess alimony” rule was designed to prevent spouses from declaring property settlements as alimony and reaping the tax benefits it produced.

Alimony is considered to be separate from child support and cannot be affected by anything to do with the children. Remember that alimony is awarded as spousal support and can’t be stopped or reduced because a child got married , died or moved away from home.

Funds paid to a spouse can only be considered alimony if they were paid after a divorce decree or other legal agreement. You must be living in separate households and filing separate tax returns for the funds to be considered tax deductible.

Alimony can continue for any amount of time – fixed or unlimited. It can also be subject to certain conditions, such as the recipient spouse remarrying or a certain increase in income that outweighs the amount of the support. Alimony always ends when the recipient spouse dies.

How much should be paid?

Only you and your spouse know your particular situation, which is why outlining alimony support in a prenuptial agreement may make good sense.

Approaches to determining the amount of alimony differ from state to state. Some states balance the reasonable needs of the recipient spouse to the paying spouse’s ability to pay. Other states use a guideline equation. For example, the courts might use up to 40% of the paying spouse’s net income (after child support) and then subtract half of the recipient spouse’s net income. The exact amount is calculated by considering the income of the two spouses, the number of years the parties were married and/or the potential increase in income after the agreement is made.

In the event that one spouse makes considerably more than the other, the courts may rule a waiver of alimony as “unconscionable”, meaning that no sensible person would have agreed to such as waiver unless coerced or under serious stressful conditions.

If you and your spouse want more control over alimony in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement is the best way to go.


  • tdk1998

    Can child support I receive from a previous relationship be used as income to me on a financial statement in Florida?

  • gayle nance

    I am receiving alimony. my divorce was final in august. Do I declair the maintenance I received prior to the divorce as alimony? or is that considered payment and responsibility of joint property.

  • Mary Jo

    I was awarded alimony en futuro after a 32 year marriage in which me ex husband had a very high salary. He refused a generous severance package from his former employer and is willfully unemployed and not paying alimony. What are differences of civil and criminal contempt charges, and how do those processes go and how long do they take (realistically)?

  • Trapped Ky Girl

    Married 20 years. He is disabled, draws disability, and money from other things .i.e. annuity. I’m fighting health issues such as fibromialga, degenerated disc in back, ect have no income. I want sign up for disability because he said “we need that money to pay the bills”, so if I get my disability he will take it away and hoard it like everything else.

    My husband controls all of the money. I have to ask him for money and tell him what its for so he can decide if I get the money or not. Usually ends in an argument and no money for me. He tells me we are broke, need to save but he gets stuff in the mail that he orders EVERY month, nearly $40 a month i.e. coins.
    My question is:
    What are my legal rights as his wife to have access to OUR money?

    What are my rights if he refuses any sexual advances for up to and over 4 years?

  • Nique in Ohio

    My spousal support is about the run out at EOY after 30 months. My ex makes about 3 times what I make. What are the steps I have to take in order to extend my spousal support past 30 months?

    • Toronto journalist

      Quit leeching and pay for yourself

  • Kay

    My ex-husband was ordered to pay alimony because we were married for yrs. He had a affair and married the other mans wife before our settlement agreement was even final. The judge placed a order that if he missed payments that I could take him to court and have it automatically taken from his paycheck. This has been yrs now and he is 26k in arrears. Is this a criminal case or what? I am disabled and live on very little funds. He told the judge in a modification hearing that he wasn’t sure if he was going to have a job but has not missed a single day as he works at Delta. Drives a lexus etc and so on and got it lowered. It was low due to our income debt ratio to start with so now I live in poverty. There is a police report where a judge accessed his banking account and proves that he just did not pay it. What are my options?

  • AnnieL

    I live in Kentucky, and am seriously considering divorce after living with an emotional abuser for 5 years. I do work, (although don’t make alot). my husband makes 2-3 times what I do. Am I eligible for alimony, and what about the house if he decides to sell? Any information you could give me would be most appreciated. Thank you & have a great day!

  • SuzyQue

    My husband and I has been married for 2 years now. There has been abuse (domestic violence) for almost the link of time of the marriage. We have been sleeping in separate rooms since Thanksgiving. The love has gone and there’s no respect here. I want a divorce, but I cannot afford one. He’s the only one that works in the home. He controls all the monies, and gives me an allowance, when he feels like it. Everyone deserves to be happy, but I am miserable. The reason I do not work is because I was hurt on my last job. I have asked him to just leave and he replied, “No, because I pay all the bills here”. I am tired of being treated like a child in my own home. What can I do? How can I resolve this? And do I qualify for alimony if I pick up and leave?

  • hefty in virginia

    My husband has a Federal Thrift Savings plan that is worth about $100,000. Since it is a marital asset, I assume that 1/2 of it belongs to me. I am scheduled to receive about $500/month for 60 months for spousal support. My husband has suggested that I consider trading-off my $50,000 share for $50,000/500 = 100 addl mos of spousal support. Can spousal support be traded off like this and would this be a reasonable trade-off?

  • pattie

    a friend of mine is getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage their are no kids no property and she deserted the home first she makes her own money. should she get alimony