This is about alimony after divorce in Alabama, including when courts order alimony, how the amount of alimony is set in Alabama, and how and when Alabama courts stop alimony once it’s awarded.
- When does alimony get paid?
- How does the court decide how much?
- What does it take to change alimony?
- When does alimony stop?
It’s rare to see alimony in a marriage of less than 12 years or so, and also rare to see it awarded in cases where the incomes of the two spouses are more or less equivalent. To state it the other way, alimony is usually reserved for situations where one spouse has been economically dependent on the other for most of a lengthy marriage.
There is a possibility of rehabilitative alimony after shorter marriages. Rehabilitative alimony is the solution some courts apply when one of the spouses needs some time to transition back into the job market. Perhaps the prototypical rehabilitative alimony case is the teacher who’s been away from the classroom for a few years and who needs to take a few courses to renew her teaching certificate. The court might order her ex-husband to pay her modest alimony for two or three years so she can do this and restore her income.
There is no formula for setting the amount of alimony; instead, the determination of alimony rests in the discretion of the trial court. Alimony is to be granted only on a showing of need by one party together with the requisite ability to pay by the other. The facts eligible to be considered in setting alimony include the parties’ respective earning ability and future prospects, their ages and health, the length of the marriage, the value and type of property, and the conduct of the parties.
Changing alimony generally requires a showing of a fundamental change in circumstances, and it’s rare to see alimony increased just because the payor’s fortunes have improved. More typical would be the case where the payor’s income has taken a downturn since the award of alimony, for reasons the court believes are not self-imposed. In those cases, the court may reduce alimony or may eliminate it entirely.
Alimony stops on the date set by the parties, of course, but it also stops when the payor spouse dies, when the payee spouse remarries, or when the payee spouse cohabitates with someone of the opposite sex. Cohabitation means something more than simply having sex with each other, or even spending a night together. It takes more of a pattern of occupying the same residence, as evidenced by things like delivery of mail and voting registration, storage of clothing, eating meals together, etc. Unlike some other states, the husband and the wife cannot agree for alimony to continue despite remarriage or cohabitation.