Each generation, the courts have decreased the frequency in which they award alimony in divorce proceedings. This downward trend is directly related to the fact that, in the majority of Americans households, both spouses continually work throughout the duration of the marriage. If you reside in Nebraska, the law states the court may order payment of alimony by one party to the other, but the court will look such things as the spouse’s contributions to the care and education of the children, the interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, and the ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment. See Neb. R.R.S. §42-365.
Some people mistakenly believe that the purpose of alimony is to attempt to equalize the income of the parties’ post-divorce. In reality, Nebraska law prohibits equalization of income from being the sole justification of alimony. A divorce will undoubtedly disrupt a couple’s finances. However, a court will be unlikely to award alimony unless the lower-earning spouse stopped working or postponed their education for the express purpose of staying home with children or to assist in advancing the higher-earning spouse’s career.
The court will also look at the overall division of assets and liabilities to determine if alimony should be awarded. If the division is fair and equitable, alimony may not be awarded. A “fair and equitable” distribution in a divorce would be when the spouse that had the greater income took on more of the family debt or fewer assets. For example, if a spouse makes 70% of the household income, a judge may order that spouse to pay 70% of the debt owed between the parties.
Alimony is less common today than it was years ago. However, it can be awarded if the facts of the marriage fit specific circumstances; mainly that one spouse suspended his/her income or delayed his/her education in order to take care of children or help the other spouse’s career.