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SPOUSAL SUPPORT AND ALIMONY

Contrary to popular belief spousal support and alimony are alive and well in Nevada.

Spousal support is financial support given by one spouse to the other while the parties are still married,  before a divorce, usually as part of a separate maintenance action (a.ka. legal separation).

Alimony is financial support given by one spouse to the other spouse after a divorce. Alimony payments are deductible to the payor and considered income to the payee by the IRS.

Alimony is separate from any property settlement. Since women have entered the workforce, alimony isn’t granted to them as often as it was in the past when a large number of women were stay-at-home moms or homemakers.

But, again, each situation is different. Even if a woman is employed, she might be entitled to some alimony for a period of time if her income is well below that of her spouse, or if she needs to study to get a degree or training of some sort to be able to support herself. This can go both ways. If Wife has been making considerably more money than Husband, she might have to pay him spousal support, or alimony.  

If the marriage was short-term, but a spouse will suffer unduly because of a big difference in income between the parties, a judge might well grant short-term alimony to allow that spouse time to figure out how to increase his or her income. 

If one of the spouses needs to be trained, or retrained, in a career, rehabilitative alimony might be granted. If you have to pay this, it would be wise to set a termination date on it to keep the party receiving the rehabilitative alimony from stretching the training for longer than necessary. 

WHEN DOES A JUDGE CONSIDER GRANTING ALIMONY?

  • when there is a disparity in income between the parties
  • when the couple has been married or in a domestic partnership for a long period of time
  • when a spouse needs financial support because of a health issue
  • when a spouse needs retraining to get back into the workforce

Other considerations under NRS 125.150 (Nevada law on alimony) include:

  • the standard of living to which the couple was accustomed
  • the career of both spouses before the marriage
  • whether one spouse has advanced the other spouse’s career
  • age and education of the parties
  • the ability to pay of the spouse who will be paying alimony

Note that Nevada is a “no fault” state,  so bad acts (such as cheating on a spouse) that do not cause economic harm or “community waste” are not grounds for temporary spousal support or alimony. If you need support right away when you file for divorce, you can file a motion with Family Court for temporary spousal support. This will get you a hearing in front of the judge sooner.

In Nevada, a judge has a lot of discretion in deciding whether to grant alimony or not, as well as how much and for how long:

  • If it’s a marriage of less than 3 years, alimony is unlikely though not impossible.
  • If the marriage is from 3 to 20 years, alimony could be granted for as many years as half of the length of the marriage,  e.g, if married for 10 years, alimony is paid for five years.
  • If the marriage was longer than 20 years then permanent alimony is highly possible, and even likely.

You can read a summary of the statutes here.

If you prefer, you can read the entire divorce statutes, NRS Chapter 125,  on the Nevada Statutes website

WHEN DOES ALIMONY CEASE?

By law (in Nevada), alimony stops when the spouse receiving alimony either passes away or remarries.

You can modify alimony if there is an increase or decrease of 20% of more in the paying party’s income.  This is considered a change of circumstances. However, the Court will look to see if the payor is under-employing or un-employing himself to avoid paying an amount he or she does not wish to pay. A motion for change must be made in good faith, such as a lack of employment opportunities or a change in health making it impossible to continue paying the same amount due to loss of income because of it.  A request to modify alimony must be made in good faith.

Parties also have the option to stipulate to non-modifiable alimony which would preclude a modification motion. An option to monthly alimony payments is a lump sum non-modifiable alimony.  In fact, with much older couples the Court will often consider lump sum alimony instead of periodic payments simply to avoid the payee becoming suddenly destitute because of the untimely death of the payor.

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