Divorce is an emotional process, but when one spouse asks the other for alimony, even low-conflict divorces can hit a roadblock.
Alimony—which is also called spousal support—is a payment from one spouse to the other to ensure that a lower-earning spouse can remain afloat during the divorce and/or for a period after.
Nevada law permits judges to award four types of alimony, including:
Temporary support is available if a spouse is financially dependent on the other and can’t otherwise cover living expenses during the divorce proceedings. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.040 (2017).)
Short-term alimony is similar to temporary support but is available post-divorce and has a specific end date or terminates when a particular event occurs. For example, the court may award short-term support for 12 months to allow a dependent spouse to transition to a post-divorce lifestyle.
Rehabilitative support is the most common form of alimony in Nebraska. The court expects both spouses to be self-supporting after the divorce but also understands that it may take time for a dependent spouse to acquire skills and education necessary to find employment after the divorce. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (10) (2017).)
When deciding if rehabilitative alimony is appropriate in your case, the judge will consider the following:
Permanent alimony is less common than the other forms, and courts typically reserve it for long-term marriages where short-term alimony isn’t enough to support the dependent spouse.
A long-term marriage doesn’t guarantee permanent alimony, and the requesting spouse must demonstrate that financial independence is impossible due to advanced age, extended absence from the workforce, or physical or mental disability to qualify.
During divorce proceedings, either spouse can request alimony, regardless of gender. However, alimony isn’t automatic. The hallmark of every alimony case in Nevada is that the requesting spouse needs financial support and that the other can pay.
If the court determines there is a need for support, it will then evaluate the following factors to establish the amount and duration of the award:
If you’re looking for an alimony calculator, you won’t find one in Nevada. Judges have broad discretion when creating alimony awards, and the only rule for judges is that the final award is “just and equitable” to both spouses. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (1) (2017).) If you’re concerned about a potential alimony award, either for or against you, you and your spouse can negotiate the terms yourselves.
Judges have a lot of discretion when they set the duration of alimony, which also depends on the type of support the court awards. For example, temporary support always ends when the court finalizes the divorce and is never a guarantee that the judge will award post-divorce alimony.
The judge will order short-term, rehabilitative, and permanent alimony to end on a specific date or when a particular event occurs. For example, the judge may limit short-term support to 6 months, while the supported spouse attempts to sell the couple’s marital home or when the recipient achieves a degree and secures employment.
Unless the court orders otherwise, alimony terminates when the recipient remarries or if either spouse dies. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (6) (2017).)
Nevada law permits judges to order lump-sum or periodic alimony payments, depending on the situation. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (a) (2017).) Lump-sum payments aren’t standard, primarily because most spouses don’t have enough money or property available to satisfy the alimony award in one payment. However, if a spouse pays in a lump-sum, it permanently ends the obligation to support the other financially.
Periodic payments are the most common and usually happen monthly. Couples can agree to the payment frequency and method, but if one spouse wants court oversight, the judge will typically issue an income withholding order along with the alimony order. Income withholding instructs the paying spouse’s employer to deduct alimony payments from wages and forward it directly to the recipient.
The court can also set apart a portion of the paying spouse’s property award from the divorce to meet alimony needs. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (5) (2017).)
If you’re having trouble getting your court-ordered payments, you can contact the court for help enforcing the judgment. The court has the power to order bank seizures, property liens, and jail time for spouses who fail to follow the court order.
Unless the couple agrees otherwise, the court can modify an alimony order if there is a change in circumstances in the future. For example, a change in income, job status, or disability. The court will consider the changes to either spouse’s income, but only if the difference between the old and new income is at least 20%. (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 125.150 (8), (12) (2017).)
For divorces finalized on or before December 31, 2018, alimony payments are tax-deductible to the paying spouse and reportable income to the recipient. However, if you finalized your divorce after December 31, 2018, recent changes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed the tax-deduction benefits and reporting requirements for both spouses.
Speak with an experienced attorney to learn how the tax changes affect your case.