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Alimony: Temporary Support

Temporary alimony is the same as temporary spousal support, and both provide sustenance to the dependent party through the course of a divorce case. During the proceedings, the dependent spouse and the parties’ children may require financial support, and courts may grant temporary support for that purpose. Dependent spouses can seek temporary support during legal separation as well.

There usually is not a precise formula for calculating temporary support. Courts should evaluate the independent spouse’s ability to pay and the reasonableness of the temporary support claim before awarding temporary support. Courts usually consider the dependent spouse’s needs along with the parties’ ordinary standard of living in determining an award. Limited-term support sometimes is called “rehabilitative maintenance,” as it is designed to maintain a supported spouse’s financial stability for the time it takes him or her to be rehabilitated. This sort of maintenance often is awarded during times in marriage where one spouse has deferred career and/or education for the family’s welfare.

Temporary spousal support can be defined for a specific period of time, and a specific date usually is identified for the court’s approval. Spousal support can be terminated by the occurrence of an event such as remarriage, death of another spouse, court order, and financial windfall. For federal income tax purposes, temporary support is tax deductible to the paying spouse and is ordinary income to the receiving spouse. In many states, support also can be made payable in a single lump sum. Some states use a statutory formula for calculating support awards based on parties’ financial status during the marriage.

Temporary support is awarded to the supported party to minimize financial hardship and unfairness, usually when the supported spouse is not as strong financially as is the supporting spouse. In that way, the legal system strives to provide equal treatment for both the spouses involved in divorce or separation proceedings. Temporary support helps protect the supported spouse’s assets and credit during the proceedings.

Some states grant support for up to three years for supported spouses with more than ten years of marriage, but this can differ with circumstances and the case. The parties also can waive alimony, provided that it is understood that support generally is not sufficient to cover the supported spouse’s expenses or outstanding debts.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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