Alimony is a subject that I get asked about a lot as a divorce lawyer. Both parties in a divorce usually want to know how alimony (also known as spousal support) will affect them. On this page, I will cover everything that you need to know about alimony in Connecticut divorce.
What is Alimony?
The concept of alimony is broken down into two types – what we call rehabilitative alimony and periodic alimony. In essence, alimony is support paid from one spouse to another in divorce. Rehabilitative alimony is generally short term while the payments usually recur long after the divorce is finalized in periodic alimony.
But keep in mind that courts have become less generous in appointing alimony than they used to be. Also, recent tax laws have changed alimony. Alimony used to be deductible to the payor and includable as income for the payee. The new Trump tax laws have changed that. In the past, it would ease the state a little bit of paying your spouse because then you can deduct it on your taxes, but now that rule is gone.
In the past, oftentimes the man would pay alimony to the woman. But I think the courts are becoming more gender neutral.
Gender in Divorce
As I have mentioned on this website, the courts are becoming more gender neutral in Connecticut. Mothers, just as a quick digression, by default don’t get sole custody anymore. The courts are up to date on the latest studies that show that fathers play a very important role in kids’ lives. I have plenty of clients who are fathers and who have sole custody or shared custody of their children. They have parenting access that is equalized. But in terms of alimony, the courts have changed quite a bit and don’t automatically award a lot of alimony to the woman in the relationship.
Types of Alimony
Courts give something called rehabilitative alimony in the event that one spouse was a stay-at-home parent. That person will have time and support to get back into the workforce. This also applies if one spouse has a disproportionately lower income than their spouse. In the past, you usually saw men paying alimony to women, who stayed at home with the kids or worked a part time job. But now I have female clients that are paying men alimony. Rehabilitative alimony gives you enough time to find a job or get a better one. Rehabilitative alimony and child support can also keep the status quo for your kids through this difficult process.
Longer term alimony, also known as periodic alimony, can also be awarded or modified over time. After a divorce, alimony can be modified typically depending on what the divorce agreement says. Usually, there has to be a substantial change in circumstances for alimony to also change. The contract divorce agreement if you settle the case could provide modification terms. You can modify the amount of support but not the term of support. So if it’s a 10-year alimony term and somebody loses their job, you can modify it but it can still stay in effect for those 10 years. So, it can be modified, but it depends on what your contract says.
Making Alimony Agreements
Our attorneys have options when it comes to alimony agreements, and we can get creative to suit your needs. So, for instance, we might say, “Okay, mom’s gonna receive this amount of money and then mom is allowed to earn up to $35,000 a year.” Then that’s not a basis for the payor, the father, to come and seek modification. You can negotiate that and say, “Look, give her this much money, give her this much child support, and let her earn up to this amount.”
But let’s say mom gets back into the workforce, let’s say she’s a lawyer and now she’s making three times the $35,000 limit. The payor can say, “Wait a second, she doesn’t need this.” So alimony may be modified in that situation.
Other factors in changing alimony are if the payee is cohabiting with somebody, or they remarry, or the payor dies. Usually, those kind of things can terminate alimony. So, if the payee gets remarried, the alimony will terminate. And that’s by statute. But cohabitation can be a basis for terminating alimony as well. This is because the payee cohabitates with a partner and their finances are intertwined. The court will take a hard look at alimony at that point.
If you need help sorting out alimony in your divorce, give my office a call. We can answer your questions and help you come up with a fair alimony agreement in your divorce.