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Alimony Q&A with Answers to Frequent Questions

Alimony can be confusing. If you’re about to go through a divorce, you may be wondering: Will you get it? How much will it be? What about taxes?

Here is a breakdown in our Alimony Q&A:

In what cases does a spouse receive alimony?
Also called spousal support, alimony enters the picture when it is established that one spouse was actually or substantially economically dependent on the other in the marriage. Alimony is not the same as child support; those payments are separate and are given to benefit a couple’s children.

How is the amount decided?

The amount is typically determined after taking into consideration each spouse’s income and reasonable financial needs and expenses, among other things.

How long will I receive/pay alimony?
There is no legal determination. The length of time will be decided by the court.

Can alimony ever be terminated?
Yes. During the divorce process, you and your spouse (or the court) will work out both the amount of alimony and under what circumstances it would end. For example, you might agree that alimony will cease upon the death of either party, upon the remarriage of the person receiving alimony or upon the cohabitation of the person receiving alimony.

Photo by RikkisRefuge.
Photo by RikkisRefuge.

What happens if my spouse falls behind on alimony payments?
The manner in which alimony was resolved determines how it may be collected. Some of the measures to collect unpaid alimony can be accomplished without a lawyer, but a lawyer can help an individual to understand the process and what is involved.

How is alimony treated on my income taxes?
Alimony is taxable as income to the person who receives it and tax deductible for the person paying it.

How do I determine how much alimony I should receive/pay?
Alimony amounts depend on the financial situations of both parties.

What if my spouse had an affair?
Extramarital affairs can be considered a form of marital misconduct, which may affect the amount or duration of alimony that a person pays or receives. Sometimes, when extramarital affairs are an issue, lawsuits for alienation of affection and criminal conversation can arise. An attorney can help evaluate whether these actions are appropriate for a specific situation.

Alimony Q&A is just one area we hear a lot about in our monthly divorce workshop. Learn more about divorce issues at our monthly divorce workshop in Raleigh.

Information provided by Smith Debnam Law, an advocate for Second Saturday Wake County.

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