Alabama Alimony Lawyers
While spouses generally don’t have major objections to supporting their minor children when a marriage ends, paying support to each other can be a far more contentious issue. Alimony, also referred to as spousal support, is often one of the most contested aspects of divorce cases.
The spouse paying the alimony might feel as if their connection to their ex is never going to end and that there is an unfair obligation to pay financial support. On the flip side, a spouse that didn’t work during the marriage may not have the opportunities to maintain the same standard of living that they previously had.
Not everyone is entitled to alimony when they get divorced. But Alabama law does award this financial support under certain circumstances. At Kirk Drennan Law, our dedicated Divorce and Family Law Group serves clients on both sides of the fence in matters related to spousal support. If you are dealing with divorce, let us focus on the details and safeguard your interests.
What is Alimony?
In the simplest terms, alimony is financial support paid by one ex-spouse to the other. Alimony can take several forms – paid in gross or as periodic support.
Alimony paid is gross is a one-time payment of an agreed-upon sum. Periodic support is typically a monthly payment to an ex-spouse.
Does Alabama Law Provide for Alimony?
Alabama is one of the many states that allow family law courts to order the payment of alimony. But just because you are getting divorced, the award of spousal support is not automatic.
Assuming one spouse stayed at home during the marriage and didn’t pursue a college education or career, the abrupt change in marital status could impact their ability to be financially self-sufficient or maintain the same standard of living they had during the marriage. In these cases, a court might award short or long-term spousal support.
Every case is different, and alimony matters can be incredibly contentious. If you believe that you are entitled to alimony or shouldn’t have to pay, you should consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney.
Who is Entitled to Alimony in Alabama?
According to Alabama law, the family law courts can award alimony to help an ex-spouse maintain their standard of living following divorce or for “rehabilitative” purposes.
In general, the longer you were married, the greater the chance the courts will consider spousal support. The courts take a number of factors under consideration when making these determinations, and they may not all carry equal weight. Some of the things the courts will consider include:
- The length of your marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The incomes of you and your ex
- The ability of both spouses to be self-supporting
- The age and health of you and your ex
- The cause of the breakdown of your marriage
The courts will consider any number of other contributing factors in its decision. For example, if one spouse dropped out of college to stay home with the children while the other advance their career, the court is likely to award support to the spouse that made the sacrifice.
How Is an Alimony Award Determined?
Unlike child support, Alabama courts don’t use a set formula to determine alimony payments. A judge generally awards alimony based on the need of the spouse requesting it and the ability of the other spouse to pay. More specifically, the courts will consider such factors as:
- Level of income
- Monthly living expenses
- Amount of assets
- Level of debt
As you can see, this isn’t a simple or straightforward process. Not only do you need an attorney that will represent your interests, but also one that will question the financial evidence presented by your spouse to ensure a fair result. If periodic alimony is awarded, it will generally continue until the person receiving the support remarries, becomes self-supporting, cohabitates with someone of the opposite sex, or either spouse passes away.
What is Rehabilitative Alimony in Alabama?
Alabama law also allows for a type of spousal support that is rehabilitative in nature. “Rehabilitative alimony” is meant to provide support to one spouse for a specified period, allowing them to become financially self-supporting. This support might continue until a former spouse obtains suitable employment, earns a college degree, or gets a trade or professional license.
Can Spousal Support Be Awarded Before a Divorce is Final?
There’s a common misconception that alimony is only payable when a divorce decree is signed. When married couples separate, this often creates a financial hardship for one spouse, and the family law courts in Alabama allow a spouse to request temporary support.
The parties must agree to the terms of temporary support, which is something your attorney can help negotiate. Any agreements should be made in writing and filed with the courts.
Circumstances Modifying an Alimony Award
When ex-spouses have been living apart for a significant period, things can change dramatically. Alabama law allows parties to modify a periodic alimony award under certain circumstances.
One or both parties can file a request with the court to raise, lower, or terminate spousal support payments, provided there has been a “material change in the circumstances of one or both parties.” When the court reviews your request, some of the factors they will consider include:
- If the paying spouse has remarried
- A change in the financial circumstances of either party
- A change in the employment status of the receiving spouse
- Any significant changes in the level of education or health
- Any events that impact the ability to pay
- The length of time since the order to pay alimony
Speak With a Qualified Alabama Spousal Support Attorney
You may want your ex to pay spousal support or wish to contest an unfair claim for alimony. The skilled family law attorneys at Kirk Drennan Law have decades of experience assisting clients throughout Alabama with matters related to divorce, custody, and spousal support. We can also help with support modifications and filing a contempt petition with the court if your spouse isn’t complying with a court order to pay alimony.
Contact our Birmingham office today at 205-803-3500 or reach us online to schedule your initial consultation.