When your marriage ends, you may struggle to understand how you will maintain your lifestyle without two incomes. This concern is especially keen for those who have left the workforce to care for children or support a spouse’s education or career.
Before filing for divorce, explore the factors involved in requesting spousal support in Alabama. The state introduced a new law governing these payments, also called spousal maintenance, in 2017.
Types of Alabama spousal support
Under the updated guidelines, Alabama courts may award these types of spousal maintenance:
- Interim support, which provides temporary financial maintenance from separation until the divorce becomes final. Retroactive awards may also be available.
- Periodic alimony, which establishes set monthly or weekly payments for up to five years. Sometimes called rehabilitative support, this type of alimony allows the lower-earning spouse to pursue the job training and/or education needed to become financially independent. For long marriages, the judge can extend the five-year threshold to the length of the marriage.
- Permanent alimony, which is rarely awarded. Alabama limits indefinite alimony to situations in which the couple’s marriage lasted more than two decades and/or when the lower-earning spouse cannot become self-sufficient because of advanced age or disability.
Eligibility for spousal support
When you request spousal support as part of a divorce petition, you must show that the marriage was valid, that you need financial support and that your spouse has the means to provide financial support. When deciding on a fair alimony award, the judge will consider:
- How the requesting spouse contributed to the other spouse’s earning ability and education
- The current and future employment prospects of each spouse
- Each person’s retirement savings if the marriage lasted more than 10 years
- The health status and age of each party
- The fault of each person in the divorce
- Whether either party limited his or her career opportunities for the spouse’s benefit
- Whether either party has a history of domestic violence
- Any history of fraud, destruction or concealment of shared marital assets
- Any history of excessive spending
Beyond these factors, the judge has the discretion to create an equitable arrangement that treats both spouses fairly.