WHAT IS ALIMONY
Alimony (also called spousal support) is court-ordered payment from one former spouse to the other after divorce or legal separation. It is intended to provide support for the spouse who was financially-dependent during the marriage. Alimony differs from child support which is used to assist with childcare and other expenses related to the child. Where child support is a simple mathematical formula, alimony is very much within the discretion of the Court.
In Nevada, there are three types of alimony:
- Rehabilitative alimony
- Temporary alimony
- Permanent alimony
Rehabilitative alimony is financial support that provides the recipient time needed to become re-established in the workforce, to redevelop prior skills, to go back to school, or to earn credentials or licenses. Considerations the Court looks to in awarding this type of alimony may include where the paying former spouse obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage.
Temporary alimony is used to assist with short-term needs after a divorce such as rent, utilities, medical and auto insurance, furnishings and the like. Temporary alimony provides the financially-dependent former spouse time to get back on their feet. This type of alimony may last one to two years.
Permanent alimony may be ordered in long-term marriages where temporary alimony is, simply, insufficient. Imagine coming out of a marriage where you raised children and managed the household for 20 or 30 years. Suddenly, you are on your own without any marketable skills. The former spouse may be entitled to receive support sufficient to maintain a standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Permanent alimony terminates upon the death of either party or the re-marriage of the recipient spouse.
Factors the Court May Consider in Awarding Alimony
The Court may look to several factors when calculating amount and duration of alimony. The most common factors include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The financial condition of each spouse
- The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse
- The existence of specialized education or training attained by each spouse during the marriage
- The value, and amount of property each spouse is receiving
While they are not explicit factors, the Court may look to the “economic need” and the “ability to pay” when determining the amount and duration of alimony.
Can Alimony Be Modified
Alimony is modifiable pursuant to Nevada law unless the parties otherwise agree in their Decree. A judge may modify the amount if circumstances of the paying former spouse change. Generally, a change in income of at least 20% is necessary to petition the Court for modification.