It has now been about a full year since a major new overhaul of Alabama’s alimony laws went into effect. With the new law, the state aimed to virtually abolish the idea of alimony for life.

A larger trend encourages people to “move on”

Many states have tried to phase out financially tying couples together forever. The idea is to prevent one youthful decision from controlling their lives.

Ending alimony sooner supposedly allows people to create new relationships and productive, independent lives more often than in the past.

Support during the legal process

In Alabama, a spouse can ask the court for temporary support that ends the day the court issues the final divorce order.

Divorces take time to file, fight and decide. The fuss and muss of the divorce process itself can sometimes stop a person from being able to support themselves.

As evidence, Alabama courts must know the marriage is legally valid, one spouse needs the support and the other can provide it.

Alimony to allow a spouse to prepare for a new life

A spouse may build their life around raising children with the support of the other spouse. When they divorce, they find they have sacrificed much of their ability to live independently.

This is usually when the court issues “rehabilitative support” through periodic alimony.

The court orders one spouse to pay the other every week, two weeks or every month. This gives time for the spouse to get experience, training and/or education needed to reenter the workforce.

This support lasts five years. If the court agrees there are good reasons for more time, it can extend support only up to the same time the marriage itself lasted.

Permanent alimony is for extraordinary situations

Although Alabama and other states may inch toward an end to permanent alimony, but the law allows exceptions.

The main example is for a spouse so old or with a disability so permanent and severe that they will not be able to support themselves through work.

Another exception is when a couple is married for 20 years or more, in which case the court is supposed to award permanent alimony in circumstances that are “extraordinary.”