If you are divorcing and have not considered the issue of spousal support, it's in your best interest to make it a part of your divorce. This form of financial assistance is available to spouses that show a need, and leaving it out of your divorce agreement could be a big mistake. Read on for 7 important things to know about spousal support.
1. Spousal support (originally known as alimony) came about in England around 1857, but it was originally used as a means to help support the wife when the couple separated. Since divorce was not legal then, the spouses separated and alimony was paid to the wife.
2. After divorce became legal, alimony became part of the divorce and was ordered to be paid to the wife who had no other means of support after caring for the children and the husband her entire life. Now, of course, spousal support is equally available to either spouse and is based on many different facets of need.
3. You don't necessarily have to be divorced to get spousal support; it can be ordered during the separation period, just like child support.
4. At several points in history, spousal support was connected to allegations of wrong-doing by one spouse, but nearly every state has some version of no-fault divorce available to divorcing couples. That is not to say that the issue does not play a part in the awarding of support, but it's not necessary to prove fault to get spousal support.
5. There are several different iterations of spousal support:
- Temporary support may be ordered during the separation and expire with the final divorce decree.
- Rehabilitative support is meant to be used to allow the spouse time to return to school or receive job training that leads toward financial independence. It usually expires on a certain milestone, such as graduation, but the end date can also be flexible.
- Permanent support is rare and often you will find it awarded to spouses that are older, incapacitated or in poor health.
6. It may come as somewhat of a surprise that spousal support may not automatically end when the provider passes away; it really depends on how it was ordered. In some cases, the spouse continues to receive funds monthly through a trust that was set up prior to the provider's death.
7. Unfortunately, spousal support is considered income by the IRS, and taxes must be paid on it. It is interesting to note that taxes are not due on any child support you may receive for minor children, however. Be sure not to get on the wrong side of the IRS by taking an extra large child support payment in exchange for low or no spousal support to save on taxes.
Speak to an attorney like McKone & Unruh to learn more.