a man paying with a credit card

Can You Get Alimony If You Never Married?

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

Alimony: How do you get spousal support? Who pays for it? Do you have to be married? How long does it last? 

Going through a separation is stressful enough without these questions racing through your mind. In order to help with some of these concerns, we compiled a list of answers to common questions regarding spousal support.  

Related Reading: The New Tax Plan and Spousal Support: What You Need to Know

What is Spousal Support? 

Though commonly called alimony, the legal term is spousal support. At a basic level, these are payments granted to the lower-earning spouse once you finalize a divorce. Courts award this financial assistance to help the recipient maintain a similar standard of living as that enjoyed during the marriage.  

Related Reading: How Alimony Works in Washington

Can I Receive Spousal Support If We Were Never Married? 

The court only gives spousal support when you were married. This also usually only happens in longer marriages. However, while not the same financial support as receiving alimony, any children shared between both parties are entitled to child support. The court may also order continued payments for joint financial obligations, such as a shared mortgage or car payment.  

Related Reading: I Work, She Doesn’t, How Does That Impact Alimony?

Who Qualifies for Spousal Support? 

In order to receive alimony, the court considers a range of factors. The court considers the duration of the marriage, the ability to pay, health, the earning potential of both spouses, and more.

In Washington, spousal support generally only factors into divorce for marriages lasting longer than four to five years. Anything less than that, the court typically considered a short-term marriage and alimony becomes less common. 

In addition, with a longer marriage where both spouses earn similar incomes, the likelihood of receiving spousal support remains small. However, in a long-term marriage where one party has a low paying job or is a stay-at-home parent with no individual income, the chance of receiving alimony increases.  

Related Reading: How to Save Money in Divorce

Are There Different Types of Spousal Support? 

Different states have different laws regarding how alimony can be granted. The state of residency dictates the type of spousal support for which you may be eligible.  

  • Temporary Spousal Support: This is, as the name states, temporary, and given when the parties separate but the divorce is not yet final. The court grants temporary support so the spouse with the lower income may continue to maintain their lifestyle during the process. Should the couple get back together, alimony stops. In the case of finalizing the divorce, the court reassesses the situation.  
  • Rehabilitative Spousal Support: These payments are awarded for a short, fixed period of time to help a spouse with either very little or no income. The receiving spouse must use rehabilitative support payments for things like job training, education, or other steps to become self-sufficient. This may also apply to stay-at-home parents who need support until a child reaches school age.
  • Permanent Spousal Support: Permanent support continues until the spouse making payments passes away or remarries. In some instances, it even continues after the recipient remarries.  
  • Reimbursement Spousal Support: The goal of reimbursement alimony is for one spouse to pay back the other for significant expenses. Courts grant this type of support when one spouse incurred large expenses on behalf of the other. For example, if one partner financially supported the other through school.
  • Lump-Sum Alimony: This type of spousal support is a fixed, one-time payout. This allows both parties to go their separate ways quickly and with little fuss. However, once ordered, you cannot modify this type of support later.

Alimony creates a financial tie that connects two exes even after the ink on the final divorce decree dries. Depending on the nature of the relationship, it often strains an already stressful experience. 

Spousal support often turns complicated and messy. These are just a few common alimony questions. Consulting with a divorce attorney is the best way to ensure you handle everything properly. You don’t want to wind up with an unfair obligation or payments you can’t afford.

Related Reading: Will Coronavirus Cause a Spike in the Divorce Rate?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *