Essential terms to know for calculating alimony rules in USA

Opting for alimony is often confusing and with the raised rate in divorces, it has become a need of this time to know the important alimony rules in USA which will help you get over many confusing situations.

But before we even start, the most important thing to know is the difference between a Separation and a Divorce.

Separation and a Divorce are usually confused. But in many jurisdictions, these are the terms that have a different significance in legal terms. 

One should be clear of the terms, which you will be using at the court, as divorce alimony rules depend on it. There are three separate terms Separation, Legal Separation, and Divorce.

A Separation is just living without your spouse, without filing any court papers. This situation does not have any orders imposed by the law over any of the martial partners. This, in the future, might affect your life emotionally or financially.  You may lose your certain benefits requirement or the separation might affect your taxes as well.

It is always better to contact a family lawyer before taking any major steps. Taking a legal help can always be of profit as it can be beneficial in child support and even with the bill payments.

It is also helpful as it would get you spousal support which is provided to you. When you have been out of work during the period of marriage or have a lower income than average.

Basically, the spousal support is provided to a spouse who needs the support of his/ her ex-spouse financially.

A legal separation is just a distinct legal status, in which you will not have to be legally separated to be divorced.

A legal separation is just as same as getting divorced. But the major difference between being Divorced and a Legal Separation is you still are a married person.

While, on the other hand, getting a divorce dissolves the marriage status completely. The wife can switch to her former last name. According to the alimony rules in USA, being divorced also means the division of all your assets while the custody of your child will also be discussed.

Spousal Support:

Spousal support is usually awarded after evaluating the financial status of both parties. It is based on two situations;

(i)  When both the parties agree for the payment


(ii) The judge feels the necessity of alimony, looking at the factors and the financial status of both the separated partners.

It is provided to the partner who’s out of work or has a lower income and needs support for living.      

What factors are considered by the judge?

 There are many factors and alimony rules in USA, trough which a judge goes during the process of awarding spousal support. The judge even goes through the period for which the support has to be provided to the partner in need.

The prime aspects considered during spousal support are:

  • The needs of the recipient
  • The percentage that payer can afford
  • The length of a marriage
  • Age, and also the health condition of both the parties

What factors qualify to be alimony?

A judge will look at the financial status of the spouse asking for the support. The Judge will also go through the ability of both the individual to earn an income.

If you have asked for the spousal support and you did leave your job to look after your family, while your partner was earning a sufficient income. 

But, if you have an asset that has much more value than that of your partner’s income, you may not be provided with spousal support.

The next thing that is one of the most important factors that the judge goes through is the ability to pay.

The judge will make sure that the payor can continue to maintain his/her standard of living and can afford to pay the spousal support.

Length of marriage is also a major aspect that the judge will consider the most.

A partner will not be provided any spousal support, in case the marriage lasted for just two years.            

This thing also varies depending on the situation.

In cases where the married couple has children and the spouse with the child custody is in need of funds to raise their child, that partner will be provided with spousal disposal.

The age of both the spouses along with their health condition will also reflect the judge’s decision for providing spousal support.

If a spouse is at no age of working or if he/she is disabled or retired, they will be awarded spousal support.

Duration of spousal support:

Spousal support can be provided for a specific period.

When one of the spouse dies or gets married, only then the duration is ended in some cases.

Many judges provide duration for half of that of the marriage. 


The spousal support is tax-deductible for the payor, while the recipient has to pay the tax.

The lump-sum payment is neither deductible nor taxable in a property settlement.

In case, the spousal support is reduced by $15,000 per year or is terminated within the first three years. Both the parties will have to report about their spousal support.

 Wherein, the payor will have to report about the additional income and the recipient will have to report about the reduction in income.