Alimony is financial support that one spouse pays to the other after divorce, where one of the spouses is not completely self-supporting and must rely on the other for financial help for some period of time. Alimony isn’t automatic—you and your spouse can either agree to payments, or the person seeking alimony can ask the court to make an order.
When a spouse asks for an alimony award, the court it will look at a variety of factors, including:
Alimony is not meant to equalize the couple’s incomes, nor is it used to punish one of the spouses; it is used to help the dependent spouse become self-supporting through education or training, or to provide ongoing support in the few cases in which that isn’t possible. The judge has the power to determine the amount and duration of alimony by evaluating the circumstances of each case and making a calculation of what the dependent spouse needs and what the other spouse is able to pay. A judge’s order must be reasonable and fair. This means that the order cannot be so high that the paying spouse does not have enough left over for reasonable living expenses.
Nebraska does not have an alimony calculator or any mathematical formula to calculate the alimony amount; those amounts are based on the circumstances and elements listed above.
Either spouse can return to court and request a change to the alimony order if there is a substantial change in circumstances. The supported spouse can ask the court to modify the order if the paying spouse has received a raise or promotion. Similarly, the court may lower the alimony amount if the paying spouse becomes unemployed or if the supported spouse gets a job or other increase in income or resources. However, if the paying spouse voluntarily becomes unemployed or underemployed, then the court can deny modification.
Unless there is a separate agreement between the spouses or by order of the court, alimony automatically ends at the death of either spouse or if the dependent spouse remarries.
Alimony or spousal support payments are reportable as income by the supported spouse and tax deductible by the paying spouse.
Murrell v. Murrell, 232 Neb. 247, 440 N.W.2d 237 (1989). (Alimony appropriate to help one spouse get more education and training.)
Petersen v. Petersen, 208 Neb. 1, 301 N.W.2d 592 (1981). (Alimony and child support totaled 75% of husband’s income, and combined with property distribution, constituted abuse of discretion and excessive order.)