Questions about Alimony and Spousal Support

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Q: Will I have to pay (or can I receive) alimony?

A: Alimony—commonly referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance—is ordered in divorce cases based on one persons need for support and the other’s ability to pay the support.  While Courts often focus on the ‘need’ element in determining the amount of alimony to be awarded, both ‘a need for’ and ‘an ability to pay’ must be present for the Court to award alimony.

Unlike child support, there is currently no guideline in Oklahoma for determining the specific amount of alimony that can be awarded.  Courts evaluate current and expected future incomes, accustomed standards of living, educational backgrounds and physical/health conditions of the parties when determining an amount for an alimony award.  The fact that so many variables can affect an alimony or spousal support award makes it even more important that you have an experienced attorney to guide you through these issues.

Q: How long is alimony paid?  Can alimony be modified or terminated after the divorce?

A: Similar to the amount of alimony to be paid, Courts look at several factors in determining the length of time that alimony should be paid.  We have been involved in cases in which alimony was awarded for a few months and others that extended for several years.

In many scenarios, alimony or spousal support can be modified by a change in circumstances relating to the need for support or the ability to pay support.  More commonly we find that there is a need to terminate alimony based on the receiving party’s cohabitation or remarriage.

Q: Can the Court order alimony while a divorce is pending?

A: Courts in Oklahoma have the ability to make various temporary orders prior to the final divorce, including orders of temporary alimony.  In lieu of alimony, the Court will commonly order maintenance of certain marital debts by one party to offset the need for alimony of the other.

Q: Do I receive a tax credit for paying alimony?

A: Generally, you will.  In almost every case, alimony is deductible from the payer’s gross income and is considered taxable income to the recipient.


 

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