In this article, we will discuss the many aspects of alimony as they pertain to the state of Nebraska. We will discuss the definition of alimony and the types of alimony for this particular state, as well as the factors that play into how it is calculated and awarded.
Navigating the many parts of divorce is difficult, and it is our hope that this article will provide some insight into this particular aspect of the divorce process.
What is Alimony?
The definition of alimony is “a husband or wife’s court-ordered provision for a spouse after separation or divorce.” In other words, these are monies paid from one spouse to the other after the divorce or separation has taken place. One spouse is not able to completely support themselves and must depend upon the other for financial assistance for some length of time.
Keep in mind that alimony is not a given. You and your spouse can come to an agreement about payments, or the spouse seeking an alimony award can request that the court makes an order.
The terms “alimony” and “spousal support” or just “support” mean the same thing, and we will use them interchangeably for the purposes of this article.
Types of Alimony in Nebraska
There are three types of alimony found in the state of Nebraska. These are known as:
Temporary alimony may be awarded by a judge when a couple has separated but not yet divorced, or the divorce has not been deemed final according to the court system. This alimony allows the recipient spouse to keep up a standard of living while they adjust to their new life as a single person. You may also hear this referred to as alimony pendente lite.
Rehabilitative alimony is support monies that are provided for a relatively short duration to allow the spouse receiving such funds the chance to adjust to their new life and establish themselves financially. They use the funds provided in a “rehabilitative” sense – that is, to become a self-sufficient individual.
For instance, once the divorce has been finalized, the judge or divorce decree may order rehabilitative alimony based upon criteria of termination, such as remarriage of the recipient spouse or the finding of gainful employment.
A spouse may need a certain period of time to become gainfully employed; a career that provides gainful employment often requires school or training that can take months to years to complete.
Reimbursement alimony is exactly what it sounds like. It is funds that reimburse an ex-spouse for an expense or expenses that were paid out on the ex-spouse’s behalf.
This comes up in situations such as where the husband supported the wife while she went through school to earn a degree. Should she divorce him soon after that, a court may award him reimbursement spousal support.
The chance that you will get this kind of alimony declines as the time between when you got your degree and the time you got divorced becomes greater.
In other cases, the husband may be able to get part of the value of the college degree when it comes to the equitable division of marital assets. Professionals such as doctors and attorneys are often the subjects of this variety of spousal support.
Is There a Formula for Alimony in Nebraska?
In short, the answer is no. There is no specific mathematical formula used for the calculation of alimony in Nebraska. Rather, there are a lot of factors that the judge overseeing your case will examine when deciding if alimony should be awarded.
Some components affecting the calculation of alimony include the following:
- Contributions made to a child support agreement
- Prospective or potential income
- How long the marriage lasted
- A spouse’s ability to be employed due to childcare needs
- The cost of being financially independent
- The cost of getting vocational training or an education, such as a 2- or 4-year degree
- The monetary value of real property and items being divided in the divorce
Bearing in mind these factors, an example alimony case in Nebraska might include the cost of getting a four-year education so that a spouse can attend class, increasing their chance of earning a higher income while their marriage is in effect.
This may be dependent on how the money is spent and other factors related to good-faith efforts to become financially independent.
In other cases, the arrangements may be of a more simple nature, such as the award being a lump sum as a means of equalizing the marital estate, a reimbursement sum for helping put the other spouse through university or college, or the compulsory sharing of benefits as part of their potential earnings.
Furthermore, the court may take child support into consideration when it comes to figuring out alimony. However, it is most likely that your child support will be determined on a separate occasion in court.
Child support decisions are marked by stricter provisions and longer durations, and are subject to statutory, independent formulas for calculation. Alimony, as we have discussed, is not subject to any mathematical formulas and is totally at the court’s discretion.
Talking About Factors Affecting Alimony
Should a spouse ask for an alimony award, the court will take a look at several factors as the decision is being processed.
These factors include the following:
- The financial circumstances of each spouse
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse’s individual contributions to the marriage (this includes childcare as well as education)
- If a spouse put their career on hold or interrupted an educational pursuit (such as a college degree) to support the other in some way (providing care for children, for instance)
- The ability of the spouse who desires alimony to work gainfully without conflicting with their children’s best interest.
Alimony is NOT a means of leveling, or equating, the couples’ incomes. It is also not meant as a punishment to the payor spouse. It is a means of helping the dependent ex be able to support themselves by way of gaining an education or vocational training, or by providing continuous financial support when working or education is not a possibility.
The justice presiding over the case has the power to figure out the amount as well as the duration of the support by taking into consideration the needs of the dependent spouse as well as what the other spouse can afford to pay.
The order of the judge must be fair as well as reasonable. This means that the alimony order cannot be such a high amount that the payor spouse has nothing left over for basic living expenses.
There is no specific, mathematical formula when it comes to calculating alimony. Therefore, your case cannot be compared to anybody else’s; every case is handled individually and will have a different outcome. Be sure to speak with your legal team for specific answers relating to your case.
Can Alimony Be Changed?
In short, the answer is yes. Either one of the spouses may return to court and ask for a change to the alimony order if a significant change in circumstances occurs. The spouse receiving the support can ask that the court modifies the order if the payor spouse has found a higher paying job, gotten a promotion, or gotten a raise at work.
The court may also lower the amount of alimony being paid if the payor spouse has lost their job, or if the spouse getting the support finds a job or otherwise has an increase in their income.
However, if the payor spouse purposely becomes underemployed or quits their job, the court can deny the request for modifying the order.
Alimony will automatically terminate at the death of either one of the spouses, or if the dependent spouse remarries, unless there is an agreement in place between the spouses that states otherwise.
Bear in mind that you will need to speak with your attorney and file a form indicating that you would like to modify your alimony agreement to do so. It is not an easy task to prove that spousal support is no longer necessary, so be ready to consult with your legal counsel before you file any forms relating to modification of your alimony.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
How long your payments last is determined by the justice presiding over your case in a Nebraska family court. The duration of the alimony you pay is based upon how long your marriage lasted, or its duration.
One good rule of thumb is that one year of alimony shall be paid for every three years of marriage. Keep in mind, however, this is just a guideline and is not the case with every divorce, every state, or every judge. Your case can and will vary.
Alimony may also be terminated upon the remarriage or cohabitation of the spouse who is receiving the support.
What If I Do Not Pay Alimony?
If you fail to pay alimony, the debt will be known as alimony arrears. These may be collected in a few different ways, such as through mediation, the garnishing of wages, or by way of small claims court. If you fail to comply with an alimony order issued by the court, the result may be a contempt of court charge against you.
If you are curious about alimony mediation, it works like this: when a marriage is dissolved through divorce and alimony is ordered by the court, spouses have the choice to sort out their alimony agreement through the use of litigation inside a Nebraska family court, or through a mutual agreement.
Most often, an alimony mediator qualified to work in Nebraska can be brought forth to help the couple come to an agreement about their alimony situation, as well as other issues in question such as division of property. This helps them avoid going to court and is more cost-effective than hiring an attorney in some cases.
Is Alimony in Nebraska Taxed?
For divorces finalized prior to 2019, at the federal level, all qualifying support payments in Nebraska are deductible by the spouse paying the alimony and are counted as taxable income by the recipient spouse.
The following must be true to qualify as alimony under the IRS:
- Payments are strictly used for alimony
- Parties reside in separate households
- Payments are in the form of cash
This varies upon the state and local level.
However, the situation has changed for those divorcing after December 31, 2018. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, any divorces that are finalized or modified after this date will no longer deduct alimony payments or count alimony payments as taxable income. Divorces finalized before that date may be grandfathered into the old rules, but for specific answers about the handling of alimony on your taxes, be sure to check with your accountant or tax preparer.
Does Adultery Affect Alimony?
Years ago, the state of Nebraska did consider marital misconduct during the course of the marriage, including infidelity, when it came time to make the decision about whether or not to award a spouse alimony. Since then, however, Nebraska has taken a “no-fault” stance when it comes to divorces. This went into effect in 1972.
Courts cannot consider poor behavior during the marriage when it comes to determining alimony. Courts may only take into consideration whether one party is deserving of being supported by alimony monies based upon their current financial circumstances, as well as the roles each spouse played during the course of the marriage.
Alimony in Nebraska also includes funds paid from one spouse to the other as a means of defraying legal costs that come as a result of the divorce case. The payment of lawyer’s fees is also not affected by infidelity.
Understanding alimony is no easy task, but this article is designed to provide you the absolute basics so you can approach the matter with confidence and some knowledge.
With the help of your support network and legal team, the matter will be resolved in a manner that is fair and reasonable.