One of the most contentious issues in many divorce cases is spousal support. This issue can have a huge financial impact on one or both partners in the marriage and is often fiercely contested. Here are some important facts about spousal support, also known as alimony, that everyone who is considering getting a divorce or facing the dissolution of a marriage needs to know.


The question of who is eligible to receive alimony is typically decided by the court on a case-by-case basis. Some important factors that the judge will look at before making a determination concerning a spouse's eligibility are the earnings of each spouse, the financial resources and property owned by each spouse, the mental and physical condition of each spouse, and whether there is any existing prenuptial agreement that makes arrangements for spousal support in case of a divorce.

The judge will also look at the length of time that the spouses has been married, as alimony is generally not awarded in marriages that last under 5 years.

Lump Sum

Spousal support is typically paid in monthly payments, but there is also the option, depending on your state laws, of alimony being paid in a lump sum. If you are paying spousal support, this has the advantage of letting you deal with this issue all at once at and never having to worry about it again. If you are receiving alimony, it might be to your advantage to receive a lump sum, since the dollars you get in monthly payments years later will probably be worth somewhat less due to inflation.


Spousal supports stops when one of the spouses dies or the spouse who is receiving support remarries. Otherwise, the length of time someone must pay spousal support depends on the court order that is issued at the time alimony is awarded.

For instance, a court may order that alimony is paid for a specific length of time to help one spouse get the education or work skills they need to be self-supporting. Alternatively, the court can award permanent alimony to an elderly spouse who has few financial resources or employment possibilities.


The court has the right to make modifications to it's spousal support decree when it feels that the circumstances warrant a change. For instance, if a spouse who pays alimony has a significant loss of income due to retiring or losing a job, the judge can reduce the amount of the monthly payments. Also, if the spouse receiving payments gets a financial windfall, the court may reduce the support amount.

If you have any questions about spousal support, contact professional divorce attorneys like those at Madison Law Firm PLLC.