When maintenance is front-end-loaded, the payor may be required to recapture in the third year excess alimony. Two calculations are necessary.The first compares the second year payments to the third year payments. If the amount paid in year three plus $15,000 is less than paid in the second year, the excess will be recaptured. The second computation compares the first year payments to the adjusted average of the second and third year payments. If this average plus $15,000 is less than the payments in the first year, the excess is recaptured. I have always used an appendix to Melvyn B. Frumkes' excellent Divorce Taxation, James Publishing, Inc. to manually figure whether a settlement poses a recapture problem. There is now an online free calculator available to make the computations:http://www.smartmoney.com/divorce/basics/index.cfm?story=alimonycalc. There are numerous caveats, however, so the prudent practioner will always want to consult Frumkes, a tax attorney, or a CPA.