Spousal maintenance is also known as alimony. It is a payment of some type made from one spouse to the other to provide support after a divorce.
Spousal support is a means to ensure that parties leave the marriage on fair financial footing without one spouse leaving the other in a bad situation. Not every divorce will include an award for support. When there is an order, it will happen in very specific ways.
Routine payments or lump sum
The most common form of spousal support is regular payments made on a routine schedule. For example, one spouse may pay the set amount each month to the other spouse. The length of time and amount of the payment will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and the parties.
Another payment method is one lump sum. The court may tell one spouse to pay a specific dollar amount and allow the person to pay it all at one time.
Regardless of how or when the spousal maintenance payment occurs, it must always be money. One spouse cannot give the other property or assets as a way to pay the ordered payment. Doing so would not fulfill the obligation, and the paying spouse might face further legal issues for nonpayment.
One spouse to another
To be spousal support, the payment exchange must occur between two people who were formerly married. It cannot be spousal maintenance if the parties were never in a marriage.
Any other payments or exchanges between formal spouses that do not meet these requirements are not spousal maintenance.