What Are The 4 Types of Alimony/Spousal Support?
Nevada law provides four basic kinds of alimony or spousal support that might be awarded in a divorce case. First, there is “temporary spousal support,” permitted under NRS 125.040, which refers to sums awarded from one spouse to another during a divorce action as “temporary maintenance.”
The other three types of alimony concern post-divorce payments from one spouse to the other, payable either in lump sum or periodic installments. “Permanent” alimony is alimony for which there is no termination date or event specified (other than the death of a party or, usually, re-marriage of the recipient).
“Temporary” alimony is similar, but has a specific termination date set out in the future, or a terminating event with an uncertain date.
“Rehabilitative” alimony is specifically contemplated by NRS 125.150(8), and is support for the purpose of allowing the receiving spouse to obtain training or education relating to a job, career or profession. In deciding whether to grant rehabilitative alimony, a court must explicitly consider whether the spouse who would pay such alimony has obtained greater job skills or education during the marriage, and whether the spouse who would receive such alimony provided financial support while the other spouse obtained job skills or education.
Other than for rehabilitative alimony, there is virtually no legislative guidance as to when alimony is appropriate, or how much should be paid. The general statute, NRS 125.150(1), says only that such an award should be “just and equitable.”
What Is Considered In Making An Alimony Award?
The Nevada Supreme Court has issued many opinions over the years attempting to give some guidance, and established a “non-exclusive” list of factors to be considered. In 2007, the Nevada Legislature codified 11 “guideline factors” lifted directly from Nevada Supreme Court decisions, which a district court is required to “consider” in making an alimony award:
1. The financial condition of each spouse.
2. The nature and value of the respective property of each spouse.
3. The contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses pursuant to section 123.030 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.
4. The duration of marriage.
5. The income, earning capacity, age and health of each spouse.
6. The standard of living during the marriage.
7. The career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony.
8. The existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage.
9. The contribution of either spouse as homemaker.
10. The award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony.
11. The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.
The legislative history adopting those factors is devoid of any discussion or consideration of whether the factors listed make any sense individually or in combination or how they were to be prioritized, weighted, or applied in making awards.
What Isn’t Considered In Making An Alimony Award?
The Nevada Supreme Court has been quite clear in noting, however, that simple “fault” or “bad acts” not directly causing economic harm do not qualify and are explicitly not to be considered in the granting or not granting of alimony. As stated in Rodriguez v. Rodriguez, “alimony is not a sword to level the wrongdoer. Alimony is not a prize to reward virtue. Alimony is financial support paid from one spouse to the other whenever justice and equity require it.”
There is no difference between genders — either husbands or wives may receive, or be ordered to pay, alimony.
In 2010, the Court held that whenever the potential alimony obligor was wealthy, old, and sick, the possibility of awarding lump sum alimony must be explicitly considered when an alimony award is made. Schwartz v. Schwartz
Can Alimony Be Calculated?
The answer is “yes,” despite what many divorce lawyers believe, but it is not a simple task.
Years ago, this office put together an Alimony Factor Table showing the most important alimony cases decided over 20 years, and the facts, legal tests, and results in those cases, to show what the Court has actually ordered in various scenarios. Many years ago, the State Bar Family Law Section attempted to create a mathematical abstract of those cases, assigning mathematical weights to the actual factors used by the Court. Called the “Tonopah Formula” Gross or Net, it tried to create an objective review of the numbers involved in a given case for the purpose of giving a starting point to a party, attorney, or judge, in figuring whether a case is facially an “alimony case,” and what kinds of sums might be considered reasonable in view of precedent. It was widely criticized but never adopted.
More useful is the flowchart, worksheets, and explanations in Mr. Willick’s “A Universal Approach to Alimony: How Alimony Should Be Calculated and Why,” which is posted on this page, and was published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (“AAML”) as a major advance in alimony law and theory. That analysis encompasses every type of alimony which might be awarded, and summarizes when each might be appropriate. The analysis is summarized and discussed in an article Mr. Willick wrote discussing the Nevada Supreme Court’s most recent significant holding on the subject of alimony: Kogod Contradictions, Practical Problems, and Required Statutory Fixes (Part One) (April, 2020).
A big change to alimony law came in 2019, when as a part of a federal tax reform bill, alimony was made non-deductible by payors, and non-includable by recipients, making its tax effect like that of child support, and eliminating the ability for attorneys to increase the net value of the award by taking advantage of differences in tax brackets between parties.
Can An Alimony Award Be Changed?
Yes, generally, but there are details. One peculiarity of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”) is that only the State which made an original alimony award may modify it — no matter how many years have passed, and even if all parties have left the State of issuance. This makes alimony modifications follow very different rules from those relating to child support.
There is extensive case law regarding the award, modification, and termination of alimony awards, and it is among the most subjective of questions presented to a court in a given case. It is still possible to make a reasonable projection of whether and how much alimony might be reasonable in any given case, but such a projection requires the client to provide complete and accurate information to experienced and knowledgeable counsel.
Willick Law Group has negotiated and litigated many cases regarding Alimony Laws in Nevada, on behalf of both payors and recipients, and knows the subject area well. We strive in every alimony-related case to achieve a result that is consistent with both our client’s desires and justice.
Nevada Alimony Laws
- Kogod Contradictions, Practical Problems, and Required Statutory Fixes (Part Two) (Spring 2020)
- Kogod Contradictions, Practical Problems, and Required Statutory Fixes (Part One) (April, 2020)
- Final Copy of “A Universal Approach to Alimony: How Alimony Should Be Calculated and Why” as Printed in the AAML Journal (March, 2015)
- Flowchart and Worksheets only from “A Universal Approach to Alimony”
- An Alimony Manifesto: How Alimony Should Be Calculated, and Why (CLE, Dec. 2013)
- In Search of A Coherent Theoretical Model for Alimony (Nevada Lawyer, April, 2007)
- Inter-Relation of Alimony Awards with Community Property (CLE, Las Vegas, NV, May, 2007)
- Alimony at Twilight: Spousal Support When a Party is at or Near Retirement Age (CLE, Apen, CO, 2005)
- Alimony Arrears Worksheet
- History and Background of the Tonopah Formula
- How to Argue for Increasing or Decreasing or Length of Alimony Produced By the “Tonopah Formula”
- General FDF
- Detailed FDF
- Financial Disclosure Form – exhibit A
- Financial Disclosure Form – exhibit B
- Alimony Factors Apparently Relied Upon In Nevada Supreme Court
Links to Other Web Sites
- Form DD 2653 Involuntary Allotment Application for DFAS
- Roll Call (Newsletter of the Military Committee, ABA Family Law Section: Summer 2008) (explaining CHCBP extension of medical benefits for former military spouses)
- Schwartz v. Schwartz, 126 Nev. 87, 225 P.3d 1273 (2010), (Lump-sum alimony is a mandatory consideration when the obligor is elderly, wealthy, and ill)
- NRS 125.040 – Orders for support and cost of suit during pendency of action
- Inflation Calculator
© Willick Law Group
About the Author
Marshal S. Willick, Esq. is the Principal of the Willick Law Group, an A/V-rated Las Vegas family law firm, and QDROMasters, its pension order drafting division.
He can be reached at
3591 East Bonanza Rd., Ste. 200, Las Vegas, NV 89110-2198.
Phone: (702) 438-4100
Fax: (702) 438-5311
Email: [email protected]