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What It Is and Is Not

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An Overview of Alimony in Nebraska

Alimony. It is a topic that you have likely heard discussed by others in some context. Your neighbor got alimony from her ex-husband in their divorce case. Or you are thinking about getting it if you proceed with filing for divorce. Wait a minute, alimony is also what countless wealthy celebrities pay to their ex-spouses for the rest of their lives! A good frame through which to view alimony in Nebraska starts with defining what it is, and is not, in a divorce case.

WHAT IT IS:

In Nebraska, alimony’s purpose is to assist an ex-spouse for a reasonable period of time that is necessary for them to secure their own means of support. By definition, it is intended to be temporary in nature, and is awarded to both men and women spouses going through divorce. How much is awarded, and for how long, must be reasonable under all the circumstances.

  1. Reasonable: Unlike some other states, there is not a mathematical formula for calculating alimony in Nebraska. If there were then there probably would not be so many questions and misunderstandings about alimony. Instead, in Nebraska, an alimony award must be reasonable under the circumstances. The primary circumstances, or factors that go into determining what is reasonable include the duration of the marriage, financial circumstances of the parties, their history of contributions while married, any interruptions in either party’s career or educational opportunities, and a spouse’s ability to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of the minor children. Given so many factors, the debate often is not whether alimony should be awarded, but instead how much and for how long.
  2. Modifiable: Alimony, if awarded, is modifiable if there is a material change in circumstances for at least one of the parties. For example, if the spouse awarded alimony wins the lottery, then their alimony award is almost certain to be reduced or eliminated in a modification. If the payor spouse loses their job due to factors out of their control, then their alimony obligation may be reduced in a modification. Keep in mind that when modifying alimony, you are unable to modify any amount owed prior to filing your modification. Also, neither party can file a modification if no further alimony is owed. In other words, do not sit on your rights if you are considering an alimony modification.
  3. Get it, Or Lose It, Forever: Simply put, you must be awarded alimony in your original divorce decree. If you are not, then you are never able to modify your decree to receive alimony in the future. This is the main reason why some decrees award alimony of only $1.00. Although minimal, such an award preserves the receiving spouse’s ability to modify alimony in the future.

WHAT IT IS NOT:

  1. Income Equalization: In Nebraska, it is well-established that alimony’s purpose is not to equalize the parties’ incomes.
  2. Equitable Division of Property: Alimony is not intended as a means by which to equitably divide the marital estate. In other words, alimony should not be a line item on any proposed distribution chart drafted by your attorney when dividing assets and debts. Alimony’s purpose is to provide for the continued maintenance and support of a spouse, separate and apart from an equitable division of marital property.
  3. Punitive: Alimony, unlike an attorney’s fees award, is not punitive in nature. The Court, in awarding alimony, is not punishing the payor spouse for things they did or did not do during the marriage or blaming them for the marriage resulting in divorce.

Alimony. It is a topic of much discussion in our popular culture. Unfortunately, most of these discussions you have heard or held create misconceptions about what alimony is and is not in Nebraska. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law experts at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.

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