It Is Deductible By Payor--and Included in Recipient's Income


Payments made by one spouse to the other which are not child support, are not part of a division of marital property, may be alimony. If you do not agree otherwise, alimony payments are deductible by the person making the payment on the Federal and State income tax returns. The recipient must include them in their income. Since there is no withholding (as is done in a paycheck), the recipient needs to make estimated tax payments on a quarterly basis to avoid penalties and interest. Read--Alimony and Estimated Tax Payments.  This is a common trap for the unwary recipient. See Seven Things Women Need to Know About Alimony and Taxes.

It Terminates on Remarriage

Any agreement made between you and your spouse with respect to “spousal support” or “alimony” is binding on the Court. In fact, as indicated below, you can eliminate the power of a court to modify the amount or duration of alimony payments in the future. You can define the circumstances under which the two of you believe it should be reduced, be increased or be terminated. You can even control its tax consequences by agreeing that it will not be taxable to the recipient if you so desire. It may be to everyone’s advantage to make alimony payments extend beyond the recipient’s remarriage. The person paying alimony may feel that by doing so, the recipient is less likely to delay or to avoid remarriage just to continue to collect alimony. The recipient may feel it gives remarriage options they might not otherwise consider. A judge, who may agree it is a wonderfully practical solution, cannot do so.

It Is Based Upon Present Circumstances

A Court cannot order alimony to start at some future date based upon future contingencies. But remember, YOU can. There may be situations where you want alimony to go up or down if the present incomes change. Again, one example: alimony will be reduced in the future if the recipient’s gross income from earnings is in excess of $ 50,000.00. 

It May Be Awarded To Either Party


Gender equality is an evolving concept, and if Wife is the primary earner, an award of alimony to Husband is no longer “unusual”.

Does Not Involve The Payment Of Debts

Unless you have an agreement with your spouse to pay a debt in your name, the Court won't be able to require him/her to do so. The Court can't order your spouse to pay off joint debts, such as a mortgage, (unless your spouse has been ordered to do as part of an award of the use and occupancy of the marital home for a period of time after the divorce and for the benefit of minor children) real property taxes, joint promissory notes,  or to reimburse you for your having paid medical insurance premiums or medical bills---unless you and your spouse have agreed to do so, in which case a Court CAN enforce your agreement.

Must Be Paid Under Court Order Or Agreement

Just because you have a verbal agreement that “alimony” will be paid, or you just voluntarily make payments to your spouse after you separate, do not assume it will be recognized as alimony. There must be some form of court order, or a written agreement requiring the payments to be made.

Your Agreement Can Control The Consequences

You can retain a greater degree of control over your future by reaching an agreement on virtually any issue than by leaving it to “the law”. There are not many occasions that a thoughtful divorce lawyer will try to talk you out of a settlement because it is “more” or “less” than the “law” would allow, if he or she is persuaded that your willingness to settle.







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