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The basics of spousal support, and why record-keeping is crucial

When a couple files for divorce, financial issues are usually at the top of the list. Even if they aren't, each person is going to have a dramatically different financial life after the divorce than when they were married. This is why, in some circumstances, spousal support is awarded to one of the spouses. Spousal support is by no means guaranteed in a divorce -- but if there is a legitimate financial need, and if the other spouse can fulfill the financial need of their ex, then it may be awarded.

If spousal support is awarded to you (or your former spouse), then there are some things you need to be aware of. Let's look at a few of them:


  • First of all, if you are the paying spouse, you should get a checkbook that can create carbon copies of the checks you write. If not, you can keep records on your own -- but the carbon copy makes it much simpler.
  • If you are the receiving spouse, then remember that the payments you get must be noted on your taxes as part of your income.
  • Similarly, if you are the paying spouse, remember that your spousal support payments can be deducted on your tax filing.
  • No matter what spouse you are in the spousal support relationship, you should be tracking the payments. Note the date and the address the payment was sent to or received at. Record the amount paid, and get receipts if necessary (for example, if one spouse pays in cash).

Source: FindLaw, "Alimony Guidelines: What Records to Keep Regarding Your Alimony," Accessed Sept. 28, 2015

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