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The Difference Between Alimony And Spousal Maintenance

By Jon A. Keyes March 2017

Does Indiana have alimony?  Maybe you have heard horror stories from out-of-state friends or family about large alimony payments to ex-spouses who refuse to work.  Or more likely you have heard of alimony through movies and television shows where a character is stuck paying his/her ex-spouse large alimony payments for the rest of his/her life.  The good news is that Indiana law does not generally allow for or require alimony payments.

“Alimony” is different than child support.  Child support is intended to financially support a child.  Alimony is intended to financially support an ex-spouse.  There are only three circumstances where one spouse is required to financially support an ex-spouse after a divorce is finalized.  Indiana calls this post-divorce financial support for an ex-spouse “maintenance”.

Disabled Spouses.  If an ex-spouse is disabled and unable to financially support himself/herself, a non-disabled ex-spouse can be ordered to pay maintenance to the disabled spouse until the disabled spouse is no longer disabled.  In theory, the maintenance payments can last forever if the ex-spouse remains disabled and unable to support himself/herself forever.

Disabled Children.  If a child is disabled and one ex-spouse has to forgo employment to stay home and care for the disabled child, the other ex-spouse may be ordered to pay maintenance to the ex-spouse caring for the disabled child.  In theory, this maintenance could last forever if a child’s disability is such that a parent is always needed at home to care for him/her.

Stay At Home Parent.  Indiana calls this “rehabilitative maintenance.”  Rehabilitative maintenance may be ordered if the parties agreed during the marriage that one spouse stay home and care for the household while the other spouse order pursued his/her career.  After a long marriage, the spouse who gave up her career to stay home to care for the children may have little job skills.  However, the spouse who was able to focus on his career (because the other spouse took care of the kids) has a booming career and large income.  In such a situation, Indiana law may require the “career” spouse to pay maintenance to the “stay at home” spouse for up to 3 years.  Three years is maximum time that rehabilitative maintenance can be required.

If you are going through an Indiana divorce and have questions about alimony or maintenance, contact the attorneys of | Allen Wellman Harvey Keyes Cooley, LLP at 317-468-2355.