Alimony X

What Is It?
Alimony is spousal support which is paid by one party of the divorce to the other. In Nebraska this can be paid by either men and women depending on the circumstances. In considering whether or not alimony will be ordered, the Court considers a number of issues, including the circumstances of the marriage, the length of the marriage, health of each party, the contributions each made to the marriage, interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, who contributed what to the care and education of the children, and the ability of the custodial parent to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of minor children in their custody. In determining alimony, the Court will look at the income and expenses of both parties, balancing the need of the one party against the ability to pay of the other party.

An Example
Let's take an example of how to compute a typical alimony award. In our situation, the two parties have been married for 15 years. They have two children, ages 12 and 10. The wife is in excellent health and is 35 years old. The husband is also in excellent health and is 37 years old. The husband is an executive and earns $80,000.00 gross per year, $50,000 after taxes. His net take home pay, after the payment of health insurance is $4,000.00 per month.

The wife completed three years of college before she got married and had children. Throughout the marriage, she has primarily been a homemaker. The family has moved to three different cities because of the husband's career. The wife has now decided to go back to school to finish college and get a master's degree which will take a total of 3 years, but at the end of 3 years she will have an estimated income of $35,000. She currently works part time doing scheduling at a doctor's office. Her take home pay is $750.00 per month. She will continue to work while she goes to school.

The wife and children have monthly expenses of $2,700, which the Court finds to be reasonable and not excessive. This includes school expenses. Husband has monthly expenses of $2000, which the Court finds to be reasonable and not excessive. In this scenario, child support according to the guidelines will be $1,266.00 for the two children.

In determining alimony, the Court will look at the income and expenses of both parties. In this situation:

                        Husband            Wife 
    Net Monthly Income   $4,000           $  750
    Child Support       -$1,266          +$1,266
                         ------           ------
                         $2,734           $2,016

    Monthly Expenses    -$2,000          -$2,700
                         ------           ------
                         $  734          ($  684)

In the above example, the wife needs approximately $700 per month to meet her expenses and the husband has an excess of approximately $700 per month over his expenses and his child support obligation. In this situation, it would appear fair that alimony of $700.00 per month be paid, as this is what the wife needs and this is what the husband has the ability to pay.

Of course, this example has been an easy one and we were able to make up the figures so that the wife's need corresponded exactly to Husband's ability to pay. In real life, the numbers usually aren't that neat and tidy.

How Long Will Alimony Last?
The next question is, how long will alimony be paid. This again is an issue that will vary greatly on the circumstances of the parties and the judge the case is assigned to. In our example, Mother needs the alimony for 3 years and at the end of that time, will be earning enough to support herself, plus she will still be receiving child support. The Court could order the alimony to go for three years only, or perhaps a little longer to make sure she "gets back on her feet."

The example above reflects the most common type of alimony that is awarded, namely "rehabilitative alimony" which is ordered to help the spouse who has not been working full time to re-educate or re-train themselves to get back in the job market.

In this day and age, however, large alimony awards are usually not made unless you have a situation where it has been a long marriage (generally at least over 10 years) and one party makes substantially more income than the other. If you have a situation where the incomes of the parties are not that different, alimony is typically not awarded.

Termination of Alimony
Alimony ends on the death of either party or on the re-marriage of the party receiving alimony. It is also important to note that alimony is tax-deductible by the payor and the person receiving the alimony must pay state and federal income taxes on the alimony.

If alimony is not awarded in the original Divorce Decree, neither party may ever come back to request alimony. This is a very important law to remember, and some people will have a Decree ordering alimony of $1 per year so that if something happens in the future (for example, disability, etc.) they can come back into Court to request alimony.

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