Alimony / Alimony Modification
Some call it “Spousal Support” others call it Alimony. While they may go by different names, alimony and spousal support mean the same thing: financial support that is given from one spouse to another for a court-mandated length of time. The purpose of alimony is to allow the receiving spouse to maintain the same standard of living after divorce that they had while married. It can be awarded:
- Temporarily during the divorce procedure
- For a short amount of time after the divorce to allow the receiving spouse to get back on their feet financially,
- Or, it can last for many years or permanently depending on the specific situation.
In Nevada, there is no specific guideline, formula, or statute that directs or mandates how alimony is to be awarded. Judges instead look at the overall picture of the individuals’ particular situation. The general ideology on alimony usually comes down to the receiving spouse’s need, and the other spouse’s ability to pay.
Common factors that may affect alimony:
- Length of Marriage (sometimes also including time the couple lived together prior to the marriage)
- Spouses age and health
- If the dependent spouse’s age or health limits their ability to earn an income, they may be awarded more support.
- The dependent spouse’s career, education, and income prior to the marriage
- A spouse who left their full-time corporate career to become a stay at home parent may receive more support than a spouse who worked at the same level prior to and during the marriage.
- The dependent spouse’s earning capacity during and after the marriage
- A spouse with a high paying medical degree, who chose to instead work a part time job may not receive as much support as a lower income earning spouse with no degree who worked the same job prior to and during the marriage.
- A longtime stay at home parent may not have recent experience needed to obtain a well-paying job, despite being qualified prior to marriage.
- How marital property is being divided
- The dependent spouse’s ability to maintain their standard of living
- The needs of children/if and how child care affects the spouse’s ability to work
- Contributions made to either spouse’s education, training, or career advancement
- Any new romantic relationship and potential for financial support
Unless a divorce decree specifically prohibits modification of alimony, one can always bring a motion before the court to modify alimony payments after the divorce has been finalized.
To do so, however, one has to demonstrate to the court that a change has occurred in either:
- A need for more alimony amount monthly, or
- The ability to pay the alimony that was originally ordered by the court.
If requesting a change to lower the amount of alimony to be paid, one must show the court that their gross monthly income has been reduced by at least 20%. (Remember that gross monthly income is income prior to any deductions taken from the check.)
In the alternative, if requesting a larger amount of alimony per month, one must show that their financial circumstance has changed in that they have drastically been reduced due to a medical emergency, a disability, or any other justified increase in their monthly bills.
Failure to Pay Alimony
Though no spouse is generally ever happy about having to pay alimony, if it is awarded by the judge, it must be paid. If alimony payments are not met, repercussions may ultimately lead to:
- Having arrears, the money that he or she owes, reduced to judgment.
- Having income garnished.
- Having property seized or sold in order to pay a lump sum of the alimony that is owed.
- If the above fails, refusing to pay court ordered alimony can ultimately lead to jail time.
State of Nevada Law and Statutes
NRS 125.040 – Orders for support and cost of suit during pendency of action