Understanding and Calculating Alimony in Rhode Island

Alimony is money one spouse pays to the other to provide support during or after a divorce. IN Rhode Island, as in other states, alimony is sometimes called “spousal support” or “spousal maintenance.” The spouses may agree to alimony, or the court may order it.

Factors the Court Considers in Making an Alimony Order

When deciding whether to order alimony and in determining the amount of payments, judges in Rhode Island will consider whether the requesting spouse needs support and whether the other spouse has the ability to pay. The court will look at a number of factors in making an alimony award, including:

  • the length of the marriage
  • the spouses’ conduct during the marriage
  • the age and health of the spouses, their employment situation and income, and their job skills and ability to work
  • whether a spouse has custody of a minor child of the marriage and as a result is unable to work enough to earn sufficient income
  • if one spouse was a homemaker during the marriage, whether that spouse will need training or education to earn sufficient income to be self-supporting, and if so, the expense and time the training or education would take
  • the standard of living during the marriage
  • the opportunity of either spouse to earn income or acquire property in the future, and
  • the ability of the supporting spouse to pay alimony, considering that spouse’s earning ability, income, property, debts, and standard of living.

Duration of Alimony

Under Rhode Island Law, there are no set guidelines for how long an alimony order lasts. The purpose of alimony is to help a spouse for a reasonable period of time to allow the spouse to become financially independent. The judge will consider the factors listed above to set an appropriate end date. In some circumstances, however, the judge will order alimony on a long-term, ongoing basis.

Either spouse may petition the court to change or end alimony payments; the court must find that there has been a substantial change in circumstances to modify an alimony award. Alimony orders automatically end if the supported spouse gets remarried.

Taxes on Spousal Maintenance

In general, the spouse paying support can deduct the payments from income. For the spouse receiving support, the payments count as income and are taxable.

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