Payments received from a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument are considered alimony payments and are generally taxable income.
A divorce or separation instrument is any of the following:
- A decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written instrument incident to that decree
- A written separation agreement
- A decree or court order requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse
This includes temporary decrees.
Only cash payments, including checks or money orders, qualify as alimony. The payments can be made directly to to you or to a third party as part of the separation instrument or under your written consent.
Alimony payments do not include:
- Child support
- Non-cash property settlements
- Payments to keep up the payer's property
- Use of property
If both alimony and child support payments are required, and you receive less than the total amount required by the instrument, apply payments first to child support and then to alimony.
You and your spouse or former spouse cannot be members of the same household, even if you are legally separated under an instrument.
A home you formerly shared is considered one household, even if you are physically separated within the home. However, you are not members of the same household if one of you is preparing to leave the house and leaves within one month after the date of the alimony payment.
Jointly Owned Homes
If your spouse or former spouse makes all of the payments on a home that you jointly own, you must include one-half of the payments as alimony. In addition, if your spouse makes all of the real estate tax and home insurance payments, you must include one-half of the payments as alimony.