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Periodic alimony, commonly referred to as maintenance or “spousal support,” is financial support provided to a spouse or former spouse by his or her former spouse. Said funds can be paid during the pendency of a divorce action and/or after the marriage ends.

The award of periodic alimony stems from the common law right of support and is intended to preserve, insofar as possible, the economic status quo of the parties as it existed during the marriage. The authority of the court to award periodic alimony is statutory and can be found at Section 30-2-51 of the Alabama Code.

Factors that matter.

There is no simple mathematical calculation to determining periodic alimony – Rather, alimony is very much within the sole discretion of the Court. Case law provides numerous elements for the Court to consider when setting an award or addressing whether periodic alimony should be awarded at all.

Specifically, in considering an award of periodic alimony, the following factors should be considered:

  • Standard of living during the marriage;
  • Future prospects;
  • Potential for maintaining their standard of living after the divorce;
  • Age and gender of each party;
  • Health of each party;
  • Length of marriage;
  • Source(s) of their common property; and
  • Conduct of parties with reference to the cause of divorce.

The party seeking periodic alimony bears the burden of proving that an award of alimony is warranted.

Bill G. Hall, P.C. can help you get through this part of the divorce process by providing you with an experienced attorney to assist you in understanding the process.

Modification of Periodic Alimony.

“Periodic Alimony” are payments that are not vested and may terminate upon the occurrence of contingencies. For example, periodic alimony (whether awarded by the court or agreed upon in a settlement agreement) will terminate in the event of the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the recipient spouse, or if the recipient spouse begins living openly with a member of the opposite sex (cohabitation).

Further, said financial support may be modified, or terminated, upon the happening of a “material change in circumstances” of one or both parties after the entry of a Final Judgment of Divorce. The petitioner bears the burden of proof in establishing the “material change in circumstances.” Alabama case law has set out a list of factors for the court to consider in increasing or decreasing support payments.

Our attorneys have successfully prosecuted and defended countless cases in which modification of maintenance has been the issue.


Our attorneys have both prosecuted and defended countless cases in which maintenance is a key issue. We are experienced in arguing such cases when litigation is necessary and engaging in settlement negotiations when settlement hinges on the resolution of a maintenance issue.

Periodic Alimony versus Alimony in Gross.

“Periodic alimony,” as discussed above, is paid for support. “Alimony in Gross” is paid to terminate property interests.

“Alimony in Gross” occurs when the Court awards a specific lump-sum amount or payment plan for a specified duration. Said sum is vested and cannot be modified or terminated.

It is of upmost importance that the Settlement Agreement (if uncontested) or Final Decree of Divorce (if contested) specifically label which type of payment is to occur so as to avoid any future problems associated with post-divorce proceedings or the Internal Revenue Service.