What You Need to Know about Alimony Before Divorce

If you are considering a divorce, the potential to receive or be required to pay alimony – also called spousal support – can drastically change your future. This is particularly likely if one spouse has been staying at home or only working part-time and is not prepared to enter the workforce. Alimony is paid from the higher earning person and benefits the lower earning person; it is a strictly economic arrangement that does not take into account infidelity or other circumstances. It is most likely to be awarded at the end of a long marriage and if there is a large earning discrepancy between the spouses.

Alimony comes in multiple forms: it is most often a stipend paid monthly but can be on a different schedule or even be paid as a lump sum. The latter option is more likely when the spouses are older. An order for alimony takes into account many factors and the financial well-being of both partners. If one partner would have a difficult time maintaining a reasonable standard of living, but it would cause an unreasonable financial hardship to the other partner to pay alimony, there is less of likelihood that such support will be mandated.

In Nevada, alimony is divided into two types. General alimony is money provided for the spouse to maintain a reasonable standard of living and can be temporary, ending after a set time, or permanent, continuing indefinitely. The second type of alimony is known as rehabilitative alimony and offers the spouse financial assistance toward becoming self-supporting, whether through job training or further education.

Rehabilitative alimony also comes with a set of requirements and a time frame for the training or education to take place. Rehabilitative alimony is awarded when one spouse obtained training, skills, or education during the marriage and was financially supported by the other; it provides a chance to even out both parties’ hire-ability.

The process of acquiring an order for alimony, both general and rehabilitative, is divided into three decisions that a judge must make. First, he or she determines if alimony is appropriate for the situation. Second, he or she considers which type of alimony would best benefit the pair. Third comes the critical decision of how much alimony to award and for how long. Factors that a judge looks at include the couple’s finances, the length of the marriage, the health and age of each spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, and other details. Nevada does not have a set equation for determining the amount of alimony to award, so much is left to the judge’s discretion.

Once alimony has been established, the paying spouse must have a change in income greater than 20% in either direction for the alimony order to be modified. This is considered a change of circumstance and warrants a revisiting of the order. The only other alteration to an alimony arrangement is with the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the recipient, upon which payment stops.

There is a great deal to know about alimony, and it has the potential to make a large impact on your post-divorce standard of living, whether you are the payer or the recipient. Consult with your lawyer about your options and know what you would like before you file.