What Is Alimony in Divorce? The Basics of Spousal Support Explained

Divorce Settlement Agreement What Is Alimony in Divorce? The Basics of Spousal Support Explained

What Is Alimony in Divorce, Who Gets It, and How?

Couples tend to disagree on one of the most important aspects of divorce—alimony. If you play your cards right, you won’t have to go through lengthy court trials and spend money on expensive lawyers.

Agreeing on all the terms of your divorce will get you and your spouse an out-of-court settlement without involving lawyers. What is alimony in divorce, who needs to pay it, and how can a spouse get it? These are the questions that this article will answer for you!

What Is Spousal Support or Alimony?

Alimony or spousal support refers to the payments that one spouse makes to the other depending on the other spouse’s financial status. If one spouse is financially dependent, the other, who is independent, will pay the support.


There are five types of alimony:

  1. Temporary support
  2. Long-term or permanent support
  3. Short-term support
  4. Rehabilitative support
  5. Reimbursement support

Temporary Support

Temporary support is paid out while the divorce process is ongoing. You can file for temporary support before your divorce is finalized. If you have the right to this support, the payments can start as soon as you and your spouse separate.

Long-Term or Permanent Support

Permanent support is granted for long marriages. Any marriage that lasted more than ten years is considered long. If the court determines that the financially dependent spouse won’t be returning to work and will need the support indefinitely, it will grant permanent support.

In some states, this type of support isn’t allowed.

Short-Term Support

If your marriage was short, the judge may order short-term support. It will last only a few years, and the precise date on which it will end will be written in the court order.

Rehabilitative Support

This type of support is paid regularly to an ex-spouse until they are able to get back to work. The date isn’t set in advance—the spouses make the agreement that the alimony payments will stop once the dependent spouse finds employment.

Reimbursement Support

Reimbursement support is the only type of alimony that’s not entirely based on financial need. It should compensate a spouse who sacrificed their career advancement during the marriage for the sake of supporting the family while the other spouse pursued theirs.

How Is Spousal Support Determined by Court?

Each state has different laws that dictate the factors the judge needs to consider when awarding alimony. The basic factors are the:

  • Amount of money each spouse could earn on a monthly basis
  • Time the recipient needs for education or training to become financially independent
  • Monthly expenses of both spouses
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standards of living established during the marriage

DoNotPay has state-specific alimony guides you can consult. Check out the table below to find detailed info about your state’s rules:

Nebraska Pennsylvania New York
Maryland Arizona Washington
Colorado Alabama New Jersey
Georgia Florida California
Illinois Ohio Virginia
Texas Massachusetts Michigan
Connecticut Oklahoma Indiana
Arkansas Kansas Oregon
Minnesota North Carolina

Can You Agree With Your Spouse on Alimony Outside of Court?

Yes, you and your spouse can work together to reach an agreement on alimony before you file for divorce. If you can’t work out all the issues on your own, you can attend mediation.

It is a process that can help you reach a compromise. During mediation, a neutral third party will facilitate communication between you and your partner and help you make fair decisions.

Once you settle all your differences, you can focus on creating a divorce settlement agreement, which is one of the most important divorce documents if you want to get out of the process with minimal expenses. It should spell out alimony terms and:

Keep in mind that the best type of marriage dissolution is an uncontested divorce. It will save you money and time, unlike contested divorces that can cost thousands of dollars and last for months or even years. If you decide to have a friendly divorce, you’ll finish the process without involving lawyers and attending court hearings.

How To Create a Divorce Settlement Agreement

An uncontested divorce document that spouses usually create before filing divorce paperwork is called a divorce settlement agreement.

There are a few ways you can obtain a divorce settlement agreement:

  1. Writing it yourself—This approach can be risky if you aren’t familiar with legal terminology. You are bound to make a few mistakes that will have the court reject your divorce or, even worse, create conditions you are unhappy with
  2. Getting it from a lawyer—Hiring a lawyer to write your divorce settlement agreement is safe, but it’s also costly. Lawyers charge by the hour, and this approach will make you break the bank
  3. Using online divorce services—Plenty of online services offer marital settlement agreements. The main downsides of these online services are that the templates they offer are generic and that they might not comply with your state’s laws and regulations
  4. Choosing DoNotPay—Our app can create your divorce settlement agreement in a few minutes, and the best part is that it will be tailored to your needs

Draw Up Your Divorce Settlement Agreement With DoNotPay

If you subscribe to our platform, we’ll draw up your marital settlement agreement that will be professional and fully personalized. There’s no need for expensive lawyers or unreliable online divorce services—we will create a custom-made agreement in the blink of an eye. All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your DoNotPay account and open our Divorce Settlement Agreement tool
  2. Provide all the required information—your name, your spouse’s name, the details of your marriage, and similar
  3. Tell us how you want to divide your assets
  4. Inform us whether you need a notary

As soon as you complete the steps, we’ll have your document ready. All you need to do is sign it with your partner and get it notarized. DoNotPay can help with that, too—we will connect you with an online notary so you can finish the whole process from your living room!

If divorces still confuse you, DoNotPay can help! We have a learning center that has answers to all your divorce-related questions, including

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