When married persons divorce, a judge sometimes orders that one spouse pay the other spouse financial support, called “alimony” or “spousal support.” 

You can get alimony if you and your spouse agree, or if a judge finds that an award of alimony is “reasonable from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case.”  However, you must specifically ask for alimony in order to get it, and you must convince the judge to award alimony to you.

Why is alimony paid?

Alimony may be awarded where there is an imbalance between the earning power and standard of living between two spouses, particularly where one person has been the stay-at-home spouse. A judge may award alimony to either spouse, including temporary alimony or separation maintenance, while a divorce is pending. Rehabilitative alimony is alimony that is awarded for a brief time to allow the lesser-earning spouse to become self-supporting.

Factors Judges Consider

In awarding alimony, a judge will consider such factors as…

  • One spouse’s need versus the other spouse’s ability to pay
  • Each spouse’s income, property and other financial resources
  • Each spouse’s debt
  • How the marital assets and debts are divided in the divorce
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, financial and otherwise
  • Each party’s age, health and medical needs
  • The relative fault of the spouses in ending the marital relationship
  • The length of the marriage
  • The amount of child support awarded

A judge may also consider other factors relevant to the alimony request, based on the facts of each case.

When does alimony end?

An award of alimony typically ends on the date set out by court order, or when the person who receives alimony remarries or dies.  However, alimony also ends when the alimony recipient establishes a relationship that is considered “the equivalent of marriage,” by:

  • Living full time with a romantic partner
  • Having a child with another person and getting a court order to receive support from that person
  • Having a child with another person, in which the alimony recipient is ordered to pay child support

It is not likely that a judge in Arkansas will order alimony until the youngest child turns 18.

The Bottom Line

Alimony is normally a temporary form of financial support in Arkansas. The person seeking alimony must make a written request for alimony in the divorce case, and must provide evidence to convince the judge that he or she is entitled to receive alimony. Although awarded, alimony may end based on the alimony recipient’s changed circumstances following the divorce.

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