Alimony in Idaho

Learn about Idaho alimony laws, types of spousal support, and how courts determine the amount of support. 

Idaho Alimony

Alimony, often called maintenance in Idaho, is a рауmеnt made from оnе ѕроuѕе to thе оthеr during or аftеr divorce. Thе рurроѕе of alimony іѕ tо allow thе financially disadvantaged ѕроuѕе tо maintain the marital standard of living.

Who is Entitled to Alimony in Idaho?

Alimony is a court-ordered financial payment from the higher-wage-earning spouse to a non- or lower-wage-earning spouse.  It is intended to reduce any unfair economic impact of the divorce by providing financial help or continued income.

A court can grant alimony when a divorce decree is issued, or spouses agree to alimony terms when creating their marital settlement agreement.

Alimony is not automatic and is primarily granted in long-term marriages based on specific factors of a divorce.  The most important of these is whether the requesting spouse lacks the income and means to provide for their reasonable needs.

It’s also important to know that unless divorcing spouses agree otherwise, Idaho law requires all payments should be paid through the Department of Health and Welfare. They will then forward alimony to the supported spouse.

Types of Support That are Available in Idaho

The types and duration of alimony differ depending on the individual judge and circumstances.

A good rule of thumb is that you should expect to pay spousal support for 70-80% of the length of your marriage. Assuming you were married for 10 years, the spousal support would likely be 6 to 7 years.  However, rehabilitative and permanent support stops if either spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries.

Courts may award several types of alimony, but first, a judge must find that the requesting spouse needs support and the other has the means to pay.

Types of alimony in Idaho include:

Temporary Support

Sometimes called pendente lite, temporary spousal support is available for spouses who can’t support themselves during the divorce. Temporary support ends when the judge finalizes the divorce or creates a new support order.

Temporary support may also be available after the divorce for a limited time.  The goal is for the higher-earning spouse to provide financial assistance to the lower-earning spouse so they have some time to adjust to post-divorce life.

Fixed Duration or Rehabilitative Support

This is the most common type of support in Idaho. It is awarded for a period that allows the lower-earning spouse to become self-supporting but needs time and financial help to find proper employment. The court will order rehabilitative support while the supported spouse attends school or training that will provide a path to a better job and financial independence.

Judges often ask the supported spouse to submit a rehabilitation plan before deciding the duration of support.

Permanent Support

Permanent support is less common and only available to spouses who can’t work due to advanced age or physical or mental disability. Permanent support generally ends when the supported spouse remarries, dies, or qualifies for a modification.

Read More:  Idaho Divorce Guide

What Factors Are Used to Determine Alimony?

Although alimony in Idaho is considered case-by-case, the courts must consider several factors in determining a support award.

However, the court will only award support if the requesting spouse lacks sufficient means to meet their financial needs and the other spouse can pay.  When these conditions are met, the court will evaluate the following factors to determine the type, duration, and amount of support:

  • the supported spouse’s financial resources (including the marital property award after the divorce), and the spouse’s ability to meet financial needs independently
  • the time necessary for the supported spouse to acquire sufficient education and training needed to enable the spouse to gain employment
  • The financial responsibility, including child custody and payment of child support
  • Length of absence from the workforce of the requesting spouse
  • the length of the marriage
  • the supported spouse’s age and physical and emotional health
  • the paying spouse’s ability to meet financial needs while also paying support
  • tax consequences to either spouse
  • either spouse’s marital misconduct

The courts use no set calculation, and judges have broad discretion when creating a support award. Couples who want control of the support award can negotiate the terms and ask the judge to approve the agreement.

Read More:  Dividing a Business in a Divorce: A Complete Guide

Modifying or Terminating Spousal Support in Idaho

Idaho law allows either spouse to request an alimony modification if the requesting spouse can show a substantial and material change of circumstances since the last order.  This does not apply if the spouses agree in writing that the award would be non-modifiable.

A change in circumstances may include:

  • Involuntary loss of employment
  • The increased cost of living
  • Diagnosis of a physical condition or mental disability
  • Increase or decrease in income
  • Remarriage or cohabitation of the supported spouse with another person
  • Loss of a home
  • Retirement
  • Relocation
  • Birth of a new child or an added new dependent

Enforcing Idaho Alimony Awards

Alimony awards are court orders and require the paying spouse to stay current with bi-weekly, monthly, or semi-annual maintenance payments. Usually, Idaho courts will attach an income withholding order to the support order that directs the paying spouse’s employer to withhold the funds from a paycheck.

If the initial alimony order didn’t provide for income withholding and you’re not receiving alimony, you can ask for an income withholding order. This would ensure that the paying spouse makes future payments.

When an ex-spouse has the means but refuses to make payments, this failure to pay can result in a contempt of court finding.  You must file a contempt or enforcement motion with the court.

Contempt charges can lead to fines, bank or tax levies, or jail.  Idaho courts have wide discretion in deciding the punishment for a spouse who refuses to pay alimony.

Spousal Support and Taxes

Due to recent changes in Federal laws, the payer cannot deduct alimony or separate maintenance payments under a divorce or separation instrument executed after 2018. These payments are also not included as taxable income for recipients.

The same is true of alimony paid under a divorce or separation instrument executed before 2019 and modified after 2018 if the modification expressly states that the alimony isn’t deductible to the payor spouse or included in the income of the recipient spouse.

Taxpayers paying alimony under a divorce agreement executed before 2019 can deduct those payments from taxes when the following criteria are met:

  • The recipient must be a spouse or former spouse
  • There must be a written divorce or separation instrument
  • Alimony must be made with cash payments (such as checks and money orders)
  • Alimony does not continue after the recipient dies
  • The parties must live apart, residing in different households
  • The parties must file separate tax returns (they cannot file a joint return and claim the alimony deduction)
  • The court-ordered payment of alimony cannot state that payments are not deductible

Idaho Alimony FAQs

Can a husband receive alimony in Idaho?

Alimony is gender-neutral, meaning that gender is not a factor in the determination of who receives alimony and the amount of the support order.

How can the payor spouse avoid paying alimony or terminate support?

A paying spouse can avoid or seek an end to payments by proving any of the following:

  • that the dependent spouse is guilty of infidelity
  • the spouse demonstrates that they have no source of income
  • the spouse remarries and has to take care of the new spouse; however, they will continue paying the child support for children if any minors are part of the family dynamic
  • if the spouse is disabled and unable to earn a living

What role does adultery play in spousal maintenance awards?

For at-fault divorce cases, the spouse who commits marital fault may be ordered to pay punitive alimony on top of any ordered support. In Idaho, marital fault may include infidelity or adultery, domestic abuse, or any other factor considered wrongdoing by one spouse during the marriage.

A judge might increase the amount and duration of spousal maintenance owed by an unfaithful spouse. If the obligee is the adulterous spouse, the judge might decrease the time and amount of maintenance to be received by the requesting spouse.

The court is more likely to emphasize adultery or other misconduct if the behavior affected the marital estate. For example, if a wife cheated on a spouse during the marriage and spent marital money to take vacations or otherwise used the funds on a girlfriend or boyfriend, the court may require reimbursement to the wronged spouse.

Is child custodial status considered when determining alimony?

Yes.  A judge does consider custodial status when determining alimony payments. This means that alimony calculations are affected by whether or not the receiving spouse has custody of the children.  If that’s the case, the custodial spouse may receive higher alimony payments.

Can alimony be waived as part of a prenuptial agreement?

Yes. A prenup agreement often includes marriage-related financial matters. Limiting rights to alimony is a frequent clause in modern prenuptial agreements. Check with an attorney if this applies to you.

What if I think my spouse is hiding assets to avoid paying alimony?

Some spouses do hide assets for this purpose.  If you suspect this to be the case, it is unethical and can result in the need to take legal action.  An attorney can request discovery to take place that will reveal hidden income and assets.  This can be a highly effective process when a spouse is otherwise reluctant to turn over records.

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