An Overview Of Typical Alimony Rules

Posted on: 3 December 2019

If you are paying alimony or you will be soon making the payments, you should be conversant with the laws governing alimony in your state. Otherwise, you might think you have been paying alimony only to be slapped with arrears. The following are some of the rules that govern alimony payments in most states.

Written Agreement

The only legally-recognized alimony is the one that exists as a written agreement. Whether you negotiate alimony on your own (and it is subsequently accepted by the court) or the court determines your alimony payments, it must exist as a written agreement. Alimony payments that only exist in verbal agreements are not acceptable by the government.

Cash or Check Only

Only money, either in the form of a check or cash, is recognized as alimony. You can't use goods or services to pay alimony. For example, helping your ex-spouse to take care of their lawn and fence may be helpful, but it doesn't count as alimony. Gifting your former partner a car can help them, but you better sell the car and give them the money if you want it to be recognized as alimony.

Prior Payments Don't Count

The legally-recognized alimony payments start the day you receive the alimony agreement from the court. If you had been paying your spouse some money before the divorce or during the divorce process, those payments won't count towards your alimony payments. You will have to start afresh once the agreement takes effect.

Separate Residences Required

You will be required to live in separate residences for the alimony agreement to take effect or be enforced. If you are still staying in the same house as your former partner, then the assumption is that you are still sharing the bills and there is no need for one spouse to give the other financial support. One of you has to move out first.

Terminates at Remarriage or Death

Alimony typically ends when the other dies or remarries, whichever comes first. In the case of remarriage, alimony will terminate even if the new partner is not financially stable. This also means that in case of death, the deceased cannot include the alimony payments as part of their estate and bequeath it to a beneficiary.

'Permanent' Alimony May Not Be Permanent

Lastly, even though a few states still allow permanent alimony, this doesn't mean that you absolutely have to make or will be entitled to the payments forever. There are circumstances that can trigger termination or recalculation of permanent alimony.

For more information, contact a family law attorney in your area.