Requirements For Alimony Payments
According to the Internal Revenue Service , alimony payments must meet the following criteria:
- Spouses must file separate tax returns.
- Alimony payments must be made by cash, check, or money order.
- Payments are made under a divorce or separation instrument to a spouse or former spouse.
- The instrument must specify the payments as alimony.
- The spouses must live apart.
- Theres no liability to make alimony payments after the recipient spouse dies.
How Long Does Alimony Last
Alimony payments may be structured to last for a set amount of time or until a specific milestone is reached. Its common for a judge to order alimony payments for one-third or half the length of time that the marriage lasted. In cases in which the recipient spouse is elderly or disabled, alimony could last for that spouses lifetime. Alimony could also be ordered as a one-time lump sum.
Some states set maximum durations for alimony based on factors like the length of the marriage, while others give judges more discretion. Absent any other agreements, alimony terminates with the remarriage of the recipient or the death of either party. Alimony can be modified by the court to address changes in circumstances long after a divorce has occurred, such as the recipient entering a financially supportive relationship with another person.
Taxes On Alimony Payments
Divorce comes with its own set of tax implications, some of which were modified by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which eliminated the tax deduction for alimony paid for divorce agreements executed after Dec. 31, 2018. Under the new rules, alimony recipients will no longer owe federal tax on this support, either.
These are big changes that will affect how many divorce decrees are structured. As things stand, the IRS permits alimony payments to be tax deductible by the payer for divorce or separation agreements executed on or before Dec. 31, 2018. However, agreements made prior to 2019 that were later modified stating the repeal of alimony payment deductions will be subject to the new regulations.
Instead of cash payments structured into divorce decrees starting in 2019, some tax advisors suggest that the higher-earning partner award the spouse an individual retirement account , which is in effect a tax deduction, as no taxes had been paid on the amounts added to the account.
A potential issue here, though, is that the money ordinarily cant be taken out before age 59½ without incurring a 10% penalty.
You May Like: Do You Pay Taxes On Alimony
What To Do When Court
If a judge has ordered alimony, it must be paid, and the payer can be held accountable for failing to pay.
If your spouse has been ordered to pay alimony but is refusing to do so, you can file a motion in court, and the spouse could be held in contempt. This can result in fines and penalties.
Your spouse could also be required to make up for missed alimony payments by paying retroactively what was due in the past but not paid.
After you file a motion notifying the court that your spouse has failed to pay alimony, the court will schedule a hearing during which a judge will speak to all parties to determine why one spouse is refusing to pay alimony and to decide upon the best course of action.
What Is The Meaning Of Alimony A Quick Guide
Are you going through a divorce, or trying to decide whether or not a divorce is even the right option for you at the moment?
A divorce can be traumatic. There are so many things that you and your spouse have to consider, and the legal side of things can get messy. You have to deal with separating assets, potential child support, and maybe even alimony.
But what is the meaning of alimony? Is it the same as child support? Were here to talk about it. Keep reading for a brief alimony guide.
Recommended Reading: How To Find Yourself After Divorce
Definition And Example Of An Alimony Payment
After the dissolution of a marriage, one of the ex-spousescalled the dependent spousemay be entitled to alimony payments from the supporting spouse. Alimony is typically available to individuals who were financially dependent on their ex-partner during the marriage and need financial support following the divorce or separation.
- Alternate names: Partner support spousal support maintenance payments
For example, lets say Joseph and Fiona are filing for divorce after a ten-year marriage. Joseph worked full-time and Fiona was a stay-at-home mom. Fiona requested an award of alimony because she made no income and was reliant on Joseph financially. The court considers each partys contribution and sacrifice equitably and approves Fionas request for alimony. A judgment is made that Fiona is entitled to monthly alimony payments from Joseph after the divorce.
Whats The Difference Between Property Division And Alimony
Property division is a one-time event in almost all divorces which resolves ownership of shared assets and liabilities. Alimony is also decided during the divorce process and theres some overlap in the factors considered to determine each.
Alimony can be and most often is an ongoing obligation that can last many years it intends to support the general living expenses of one spouse, while property division doesnt share this goal.
You May Like: Selling Wedding Rings After Divorce
Reporting Taxable Alimony Or Separate Maintenance
If you paid amounts that are considered taxable alimony or separate maintenance, you may deduct from income the amount of alimony or separate maintenance you paid whether or not you itemize your deductions. Deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments on Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return or Form 1040-SR, U.S. Tax Return for Seniors , Additional Income and Adjustments to IncomePDF). You must enter the social security number or individual taxpayer identification number of the spouse or former spouse receiving the payments or your deduction may be disallowed and you may have to pay a $50 penalty.
If you received amounts that are considered taxable alimony or separate maintenance, you must include the amount of alimony or separate maintenance you received as income. Report alimony received on Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR PDF) or on Form 1040-NR, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return PDF). You must provide your SSN or ITIN to the spouse or former spouse making the payments, otherwise you may have to pay a $50 penalty.
When A Spouse Refuses To Pay
When a court issues an order for alimony or other type of family support, the spouse has a legal obligation to pay. In the event the paying spouse refuses to pay as ordered, he or she may be found in contempt of court. The judge may then order a wage garnishment or a levy on his or her property or bank accounts. Attempting to obstructing this type of enforcement of a support order may result in criminal contempt charges.
You May Like: How To Transfer House Title After Divorce
What Is Alimony Income And How Is Alimony Taxed
Alimony income is court-ordered financial support from the ex-spouse. How it is taxed depends on when the divorce agreement was executed. If it happened before December 31, 2018, the ex-spouse receiving alimony payments has to report it as income. The ex-spouse paying the alimony could declare it as a deductible expense.
After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the ex-spouse paying the alimony couldnt declare it as deductible, and the receiving ex-spouse didnt owe any federal tax on this payment.
Is Alimony Taxable Or Is Alimony Tax Deductible
This used to be a straightforward answer. However, since 2018 theres a new tax law, and alimony can now be considered income in some cases. Therefore, now one of the most common questions we see about alimony is taxation. In essence, our clients want to know, Is alimony taxable? When comparing alimony vs child support regarding tax matters, remember that child support is never deductible but whether or not alimony is taxable becomes a bit more confusing.
Also Check: How To Qualify For Alimony
Alimony Can Be Complicated
So what is the meaning of alimony? Alimony payments are spousal support payments that allow a dependent spouse to take care of themself after divorce until theyre able to make enough money to survive.
If youre unsure as to whether or not alimony is appropriate in your situation, talk to an attorney to get some alimony advice as soon as possible.
For more helpful articles about the top trending topics, check out the rest of our site.
What To Do When Alimony Is Not Being Paid
There are a couple of things you can do if your spouse is not sending alimony checks. You can, in good faith, try to find out why this has occurred. If the spouse is incapacitated due to a medical condition or because they lost a job, you can work out an agreement to lower or suspend alimony checks until the ex-spouse can stand on their feet again.
Conversely, if you discover that the payments are being withheld on purpose, youll have to take your case to court. If proven that the ex-spouse is in contempt of court, the judge will order all due payments to be settled and may include additional fines. If they refuse, the court can take further action that may even include jail time.
The court can also ask the ex-spouses employer to withhold a portion of their income and send it as an alimony payment. That way, the ex-spouse is completely cut out of the process, and doesn’t get a say. If none of the above approaches brings results, the court can order the seizing of the debtors property or any other assets to settle the debt.
Read Also: Can I Get Alimony After 2 Years Of Marriage
Ask For A Vocational Evaluation
Alimony is often based upon a spouses future earning potential, at least to some extent.
A vocational evaluator might determine that your spouse has the ability to obtain a higher-paying job, which could reduce the amount of time during which you are obligated to pay alimony.
For instance, you may only have to pay alimony for a short period of time while your spouse attempts to find more lucrative employment.
Keep Tabs On Your Spouses Relationship Status
If your spouse had an affair through the course of the marriage, and you have proof of such, you may be able to avoid alimony payments, but some states require you to have proof that marital money was used in the context of the affair.
For instance, if your spouse spent money on trips out of town with the affair partner or gave money to help the partner pay bills, this could be the cause for stopping you from paying alimony.
You may also see a stop or reduction in your alimony obligations if your former spouse remarries or moves in with another partner.
Knowing your spouses relationship status and state laws that apply to new relationships can be helpful if youre looking to reduce your alimony percentage or eliminate it altogether.
Also Check: Fulton County Ga Divorce Records
Payments Not Alimony Or Separate Maintenance
Not all payments under a divorce or separation instrument are alimony or separate maintenance. Alimony or separate maintenance doesnt include:
- Noncash property settlements, whether in a lump-sum or installments,
- Payments that are your spouse’s part of community property income,
- Payments to keep up the payer’s property,
- Use of the payer’s property, or
- Voluntary payments .
Child support is never deductible and isn’t considered income. Additionally, if a divorce or separation instrument provides for alimony and child support, and the payer spouse pays less than the total required, the payments apply to child support first. Only the remaining amount is considered alimony.
When Is Alimony Necessary
If you and your partner are choosing to mediate instead of using a lawyer, you can decide whether or not alimony is necessary . You could also talk to an alimony lawyer and use an alimony calculator to give yourself a general idea.
Most of the time, the court will decide that alimony is appropriate when one partner is dependent on the other. For example, if one partner chose to stay home and take care of children while the other was able to ascend through their career, the partner at home would be dependent.
The amount of alimony will vary. If the couple was quite well-off, the dependent would receive more money to maintain a reasonable quality of life. If not, the alimony will be less substantial.
Alimony payments arent intended to be permanent. When the dependent partner gets back on their feet and can support themself, the alimony can stop. It can be hard for a former stay-at-home spouse or parent to find work.
Recommended Reading: How Long Do You Have To Pay Alimony In California
Is There A Way Of How To Divorce Without Paying Alimony
While it is often impossible to get out of paying alimony if your former spouse earns significantly less than you and if youve been married for a long time, there are ways to reduce your payments and/or the amount of time you have to pay alimony.
For instance, if your former partner had an affair, or if they marry again, you may be able to avoid paying alimony.
You might also be able to reduce alimony payments or get out of paying altogether if you can demonstrate that your spouse doesnt need it or if you are able to negotiate by giving up other assets.
What Is The Purpose Of Alimony
The purpose of alimony isnt to equally distribute finances between the spouses. Instead, alimony is meant to provide sufficient finances for the lower-income spouse to sustain a similar standard of living that they had while the marriage lasted.
Traditionally, alimony was reserved for wives, but that changed in 1979 when the Supreme Court ruled that alimony is gender-neutral.
Also Check: El Paso County Divorce Records
Am I Entitled To Alimony
Whether or not you will be able to receive alimony depends upon your financial situation and the laws in your state.
If your spouse worked and you stayed at home to raise children, or if you earn significantly less than your spouse, you may be able to receive alimony as part of a divorce or separation.
Child Support Vs Alimony
Child support and alimony are different, though some people see the two as the same. Child support is paid to the parent or guardian who has physical custody of the children, the money intended to help provide the children with the essentials they need as they grow up. It can be ordered whether the parents are married, divorced, or have never been married. Alimony has nothing to do with children, and its amount and duration are not affected by the presence of children, or whether or not child support is being received.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Alimony In Florida
Enforcing An Alimony Award
While alimony is legally binding, it can be harder to enforce than other court orders such as child support. Still, there is recourse recipients can take if they arent receiving what has been ordered by the court. Its recommended to talk to a lawyer before pursuing legal action to enforce alimony. There are several methods for pursuing unpaid alimony.
Do You Have To Pay Alimony If Your Spouse Cheats
Some states have laws that disqualify a partner from receiving alimony if they have an affair, but you will have to be able to provide evidence of the affair in court.
In addition, some states may require proof that marital assets were used to support the affair in order to prevent a spouse from receiving alimony is a term that comes up often in divorce proceedings, but some people may wonder, What is alimony?
Sometimes referred to as spousal support, alimony is an important factor to consider when thinking about divorce.
Here, learn all about divorce alimony, including what is alimony based on, who gets alimony, and alimony requirements.
Recommended Reading: Married 4 Months Want Divorce
Can A Working Wife Get Alimony
Every situation is different, but if you work and your income is significantly lower than your spouses, and you demonstrate financial need, you may be able to get alimony, at least for a period of time.
You may be subject to a vocational evaluation to determine if your future earning potential can increase.
If your income is currently low enough that you qualify for alimony, you may receive it for a short period until you are able to secure higher-paying employment.
Alimony Or Separate Maintenance In General
A payment is alimony or separate maintenance if all the following requirements are met:
- The spouses don’t file a joint return with each other
- The payment is in cash
- The payment is to or for a spouse or a former spouse made under a divorce or separation instrument
- The spouses aren’t members of the same household when the payment is made
- There’s no liability to make the payment after the death of the recipient spouse and
- The payment isn’t treated as child support or a property settlement.
Don’t Miss: Does Alimony Stop When You Live With Someone
What Is Alimony Based On
A significant factor that has to be taken into account is how long the marriage lasted. If it was short-lived, neither of the spouses would be awarded alimony. The longer the marriage lasted, the longer the spouse will receive the alimony check.
For example, if the marriage lasted five years, the spouse will receive alimony payments for one year. Each year of marriage prolongs the total alimony payment period by 4%. In the case we mentioned, for five years of marriage, the spouse will get 20%, which is one year. If the marriage lasted 15 years, the alimony payments would continue for 60% of the marriage length or nine years in total. However, in case the marriage went on for over 20 years, the court may order alimony for the duration of the union or for life.
These figures are only useful as a guideline since each state has its own manner of determining the alimony amount and how long it will be paid. Another important factor is whether or not children from that marriage need to have a full-time parent at home.
We recommend that you seek professional advice from attorneys from your state for proper estimates and advice.