The sharing of finances is fundamental to most marriages. When parties divorce, the court is tasked with ensuring that, if possible, each spouse continues the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. If you and your spouse have vastly different earning capacities, the court may order the higher earner to pay a support amount to the lower earner. This is known as alimony, and understanding when it may be requested can ensure that you remain financially solvent during and after your divorce.
In most states, alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is requested in the original divorce paperwork. If you are filing for divorce, the complaint form typically has a box to check for alimony. Likewise, if you are the non-filing spouse, you may check this box in the response form, known as an answer. You may choose to request alimony while the divorce is pending, known as temporary alimony, as well as a final award after the divorce is granted.
Although state law may vary, judges typically are inclined to award alimony if you were married a long time, are unable to be self-supporting and your spouse has an ability to pay. Some states also take into consideration how much you received in the property division phase of the divorce, and whether your spouse committed marital misconduct such as adultery or abuse.