The alimony laws governing spousal support in the US vary from state to state. Though all 50 states in America are alimony states, meaning states that have enacted laws permitting a spouse who cannot work full time or with a lower income to request payments from the other spouse to support themselves after a divorce.
Also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance, the law must be established in a statute by a state’s legislature, hence every state has a form of alimony law governing support after divorce.
States With Alimony Laws
As stated earlier, all 50 states have a form of spousal support law or the other. These laws differ in requirement and type, and these must be met in order to receive support.
Courts in alimony states can also award spousal support if it’s warranted by the facts of the divorce, after a review. In this case, you may need an alimony attorney that’s experienced in spousal support.
States With Permanent Alimony
In most states, permanent alimony is no longer available. Alimony for life is largely unnecessary now that women may obtain an education and enter the workforce. Rather, most states have changed permanent alimony laws to provide the recipient spouse time to become financially self-sufficient before the payments stop.
Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia are the only states that still have perpetual alimony. Bills and motions have been introduced in some of these states to ban the ordering of permanent alimony in favor of temporary, rehabilitative, or reimbursement alimony.
However, permanent alimony may still be granted in states like Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
Most states restrict permanent alimony for spouses who have suffered a serious sickness or disability, with the length of the marriage determining the amount.
Types of Alimony in the Different States
Ohio recognizes both temporary and permanent alimony, depending on circumstances like age and health, whereas Illinois favors temporary and rehabilitative alimony. Other states have enacted temporary or rehabilitative alimony, with permanent and lump sum alimony being awarded only in extraordinary circumstances.
Alimony in Community Property States
Many states with community property laws prohibit permanent or temporary alimony. All assets and debts acquired during the marriage are owned equally by both spouses under community property rules.
Alimony is not paid in community property states since both spouses are in the same financial status after the divorce, and neither has more or fewer assets to maintain the other.
Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington are among the states that have community property laws.
In community property states, rehabilitative alimony is usually possible but rarely awarded. When awarded, the alimony payments are normally made for a short period of time and for a little sum.
No-Fault Divorce Alimony States
No-fault divorce is now recognized in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, which means a petitioning spouse will not have to establish any faults before initiating a divorce petition.
However, fault-based divorces are still available in some states. In the past, this meant that the spouse seeking divorce had to establish that the other partner was at fault in order to get a divorce.
When it comes to applying for a no-fault divorce, however, certain states require spouses to follow distinct procedural requirements.
What States do Not Enforce Alimony?
While alimony is a common aspect of divorce proceedings in many states, there are some states that do not enforce the payment of alimony. In these states, the court may have limited authority to award it in certain circumstances.
The main reason most people want to know what states do not enforce alimony is so they can move to those states and avoid alimony. However, there are no states in America that don’t have one form of alimony law or the other. The difference is the type of alimony laws practiced in every state.
Georgia, California, Connecticut, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Utah, Illinois, and South Carolina all have laws that allow alimony to be terminated or modified if a spouse remarries or lawfully lives with another partner.
Alimony support is prohibited in New Jersey for parents who mistreat, kill, or leave their children. Because of marital wrongdoing, abandonment, or infidelity, North Carolina and Georgia limit or refuse alimony.
In Connecticut and Vermont, the supporting spouse can demand that alimony payments stop when they retire. However, they may persist until the recipient or payer dies, at which point the payer’s estate may continue to provide money to the dependant spouse.
The following states have limited or abolished the enforcement of alimony:
- Indiana: Indiana abolished permanent alimony and limits the award of alimony to a maximum of 3 years unless the marriage lasted longer than 20 years.
- Massachusetts: Massachusetts limits the award of alimony to a maximum of the length of the marriage unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- Ohio: Ohio limits the award of alimony to a maximum of the length of the marriage unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- Oregon: Oregon abolished permanent alimony and limits the award to a maximum of 5 years unless the marriage lasted longer than 20 years.
What states are best for alimony?
Even in places where perpetual alimony is permitted, judges are less likely to grant it for such a long period of time as more and more spouses have dual incomes. Even the elimination of indefinite spousal maintenance is being discussed. A bill to abolish lifelong alimony just passed Florida’s lower chamber, but as of the time this article was published, the governor had not yet signed it.
In cases involving long-term marriages, where a spouse is too old to realistically return to the workforce to have financial security, or who has developed a disability or health issue that precludes them from supporting themselves in the future, spousal assistance may be granted indefinitely. Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia are among the states that can still grant permanent alimony.
However, in Connecticut and Vermont, the supporting spouse has the option to request that alimony payments end upon retirement, similar to the proposed changes to Florida law. If not, they may go on until either the payer or the recipient passes away; even then, the payer’s estate may keep providing support to the dependent spouse.
Types of Alimony in States
The most common type of spousal support in most states is temporary alimony, which means this type of alimony is obtainable in most states. Also, most states outlaw permanent alimony.
In the same vein, many states limit temporary alimony awards by either amount or duration. The most common type of spousal support happens to be rehabilitative alimony.
How Long To Pay Alimony in Each State
The spousal support duration also depends on the state and the specific type of alimony laws in practice within it.
Even when the duration to pay alimony can differ depending on individual circumstances and the judge, expect to pay alimony for a duration of 80-70% of the length the marriage lasted. So assuming you were married for 10 years, the spousal support duration will most likely be between 6 to 7 years.
Click on each state to know their exact alimony duration
How Long do You Have to be Married to Receive Alimony in Each State?
Again, this is another factor that is determined by the type of spousal support law being adopted by the state in question. To understand how long you have to be married to qualify for alimony in your state, you have to take into consideration how long the marriage lasted.
However, bear in mind that there is no limit to the duration you can pay or receive alimony for marriages that lasted 20 years or more. Any marriage that lasted below 20 years will not pay nor receive alimony that exceeds 50% of the duration of the marriage.
Click on each state to find out the specific alimony duration applicable.
Who Pays Alimony in Each State?
If you make all or most of the money, you would probably have to share that income with your spouse. If you didn’t, your standard of living would rise considerably above the one you enjoyed while married, and your spouse would drop below it.
In all states, the spouse who has been supporting the other financially and earns the higher income is usually the one who pays spousal support in a divorce. The amount though defers depending on the state
A lot of men ask ‘can a husband get alimony?’ The direct answer is YES, as long as the statement above regarding the alimony laws in the state applies, a husband is entitled to spousal support.
Average Alimony Payment in All States
The average amount payable as spousal support in each state after divorce is determined by different factors. But the major factor you have to understand is “the standard of living of the marriage.”
This is the main measure the court uses to determine the amount to be paid. The principle behind the standard of living of the marriage is that after the marriage breakup, both spouses should continue living within the same standard they lived while the marriage lasted.
Hence, the average alimony amount payable is calculated in percentage in most states, and not a fixed amount. If one spouse made all the income, the same spouse should expect to share the income with the spouse.
For state-by-state alimony, amounts click on the state below.
How Alimony is Calculated in Each State
The amount to be paid as spousal support is calculated after considering various things, and most importantly, according to the statute in operation in the state. Whichever option is adopted by each state is reflected in the Alimony Calculator
Alimony Laws in All 50 States
A Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas
C California | Colorado | Connecticut
D-H Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii
I Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa
K-L Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana
M Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana
N Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota
O Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon
P-S Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota
T-U Tennessee | Texas | Utah
V-W Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming
Conclusion on State Alimony Laws
The variety of names for alimony, types of spousal support awards, requirements to receive the alimony, duration of time alimony is made, exceptions to these permitted awards, and other components of alimony structure in a state is determined by the specific alimony law in operation there.
What is obtainable in one state could be different from another, and more so, a judge can also vary some aspects of a state’s spousal support law for specific reasons.
To get detailed and more specific information about the spousal support law in each of the 50 states of the US, click on the state below.