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Considering divorce raises many questions, especially when it comes to financial matters like alimony. If you face a divorce in Iowa, you likely want to know: who will have to pay alimony? How much will alimony payments be? And for how long will alimony continue? At Arenson Law Group, PC, our compassionate and knowledgeable divorce attorneys understand the uncertainty and stress you may feel when confronting these issues.

What is Alimony Payment?

Alimony, also called “spousal support” or “maintenance,” refers to payments that one former spouse makes to the other following a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help the lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living close to what the couple had during the marriage.

In Iowa, either spouse can request alimony in a divorce. The court will only grant alimony, however, if one spouse has a financial need and the other can pay. Alimony is not automatic — the spouse seeking support must demonstrate a need for it.

Several factors influence whether alimony gets awarded and in what amount:

  • Length of the marriage: The longer the marriage lasts, the more likely a court will grant alimony. Alimony is less common in shorter marriages.
  • Difference in earning capacity: The more comprehensive the income gap between spouses, the higher the likelihood of alimony. If spouses earn similar incomes, alimony becomes less probable.
  • Age and health of each spouse: If one spouse is much older or has health issues that impact their earning potential, a court may award alimony to that spouse.
  • Standard of living during the marriage: The court considers the couple’s lifestyle while married. Alimony aims to help both spouses maintain a comparable standard of living after divorce.
  • Child custody arrangements: If one parent is the primary caregiver for the children, limiting their ability to work full-time may factor into an alimony determination.

Alimony isn’t a one-size-fits-all determination in Iowa. The unique facts of your marriage will dictate the outcome of the alimony in your case. An experienced Iowa divorce lawyer can evaluate your situation and explain what type of alimony award you can realistically expect.

How Much Tax Do I Pay on Alimony Received?

Another common question about alimony concerns taxes. Many people wonder how alimony payments are treated for tax purposes. The answer depends on when your divorce or separation instrument was executed.

For divorce or separation agreements signed after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are no longer tax deductible for the paying spouse. The recipient doesn’t have to report the alimony as taxable income either. If you finalized your divorce in 2019 or later, you don’t pay any taxes on the alimony you receive from your ex-spouse. The alimony is treated the same as child support for newer divorces.

The old tax rules still apply for divorces and separations finalized before 2019, however. Under the pre-2019 law, alimony recipients must report the payments as taxable income. You will pay taxes on alimony in the same tax bracket as your other income. The paying spouse can deduct the alimony from their taxable income, lowering their overall tax liability.

Consult a knowledgeable divorce attorney or tax professional if you need help determining which tax rules apply. They can confirm your legal date of divorce and clarify your alimony tax obligations.

Types of Alimony in Iowa

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Iowa law allows for three types of alimony:

  • Traditional alimony: This is ongoing support paid by one spouse to the other, usually in monthly installments. The amount and duration depend on factors like the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and their respective financial needs. Traditional alimony often lasts several years or until the recipient remarries or either party dies.
  • Rehabilitative alimony: The court awards this shorter-term support to allow a spouse time to get training or education and become self-supporting. It may be appropriate when one spouse has been out of the workforce for many years. Rehabilitative alimony helps cover living expenses while the recipient returns to school or gains work experience to increase their job prospects and income.
  • Reimbursement alimony: This type of support repays one spouse’s financial contributions to the marriage that substantially benefited the other. If one spouse worked to put the other through an advanced degree program, reimbursement alimony compensates the working spouse for that investment in the other’s earning capacity.

To determine the appropriate alimony arrangement in your case, the court will evaluate:

  • Each spouse’s current income and future earning potential
  • The property division in your divorce
  • The feasibility of the lower-earning spouse becoming self-supporting
  • Each spouse’s assets and debts
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s health and age
  • The custodial parent’s need to stay home with the children
  • Either spouse’s wasteful spending or destruction of assets
  • Any other relevant factors

Get Skilled Legal Guidance on Your Iowa Alimony Questions

Alimony is among the most complex and contentious issues in many Iowa divorces. With so much at stake financially, having a skilled advocate in your corner is crucial to protect your interests.

If you have further questions about how alimony works in Iowa divorces or need help with your alimony case, please contact the Iowa divorce lawyers of Arenson Law Group, PC today at (319) 363-8199. We look forward to putting our experience to work for you.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : June 14, 2024