Connecticut bill seeks to address tax consequences when awarding alimony

Following divorce, there are often several issues that splitting couples need to resolve before they can move on with their lives. For instance, many of those going through divorce must deal with matters such as property division as well as child custody and support. However, one of the most commonly contested subjects that divorcing spouses contend with is the issue of alimony - otherwise known as spousal support or spousal maintenance.

In fact, there are many forms of alimony in Connecticut that courts will often consider, including lump-sum alimony payments, temporary alimony payments and permanent alimony payments - although permanent alimony has become less common in recent years.

Interestingly, while there are several factors under current Connecticut law that a court can consider when determining whether to grant alimony following divorce, a recently introduced bill seeks to add "tax consequences" to this list. Specifically, this proposed bill would require courts to bear in mind the tax implications of their orders when awarding alimony. For instance, if the court divides property in such a way following divorce that one party bears an additional tax burden, the court would be expressly permitted under the law to contemplate this factor when allocating alimony obligations.

Connecticut alimony law

Importantly, the recently introduced legislation - HB 5524 - does not seek to alter any of the currently enacted factors that courts use when determining alimony amounts and durations. But, instead, the bill will, if passed, merely add "tax consequences" to these considerations. At present, these factors include:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The age, health and occupation of the parties
  • The amount and sources of income for the parties
  • The education, vocational skills and earning capacity of the parties
  • The causes of divorce
  • The needs of the parties
  • In the case of a custodial parent, the desirability and feasibility of this parent seeking employment

However, even though Connecticut law contains these expressed factors, a court may not be required to review each one if the parties have already resolved the matter of alimony through their own written agreement. For example, in cases such as this, a court will often forego the statutory factors and instead simply examine the financial resources and actual needs of the spouses. Typically, courts will approve an alimony agreement between the spouses if it is found to be fair and equitable.

Ultimately, the question of alimony will normally be a complex one, with no easy answer. Consequently, if you are currently contemplating divorce and believe alimony will be a matter that needs to be resolved, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced alimony attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in reviewing your circumstances and help explain your rights and options.