Alimony is a set amount of money paid from one spouse to another in a legal separation or divorce. Alimony is meant to pay for the receiving spouse's living expenses, including rent or mortgages, utilities, health insurance and even school tuition payments.
Types of Alimony a Court May Award
There are four different types of alimony. Each type is awarded only in certain circumstances and varies in length and amount.
Permanent alimony is awarded until the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. The amount of payments depends on the recipient spouse's living expenses, contribution to the marriage and age, as well as other factors. Sometimes, courts insert "co-habitation clauses" into court orders awarding permanent alimony. These clauses state that the recipient spouse's alimony ends when he or she begins to live permanently with another individual.
A lump sum payment of alimony is a one-time award that is paid in one payment. This alimony is often awarded when a spouse is not entitled to alimony according to a state's laws, but the court determines that some assets must be given to one spouse to ensure that marital property is divided equally and to support the recipient spouse. The amount of the award depends on the size of the marital estate and the recipient spouse's need.
Temporary payments are usually granted for five years or less in most cases. This type of alimony is usually awarded to help the recipient spouse get back on their feet after a divorce. Usually, the spouses of a divorce in which temporary alimony is awarded have the same income and potential earning level, but the court feels that one spouse requires additional support to become established after their divorce. The amount of temporary alimony is determined by the recipient spouse's anticipated need, which is based on their estimated living expenses.
Rehabilitative alimony is made to a spouse who requires training or education to enter the workforce and earn an income. It is usually awarded for three years or less, and the award may even be dependent upon a third factor, such as the spouse's being in school to earn a degree. The amount of rehabilitative alimony usually includes the cost of the training or degree program, in addition to living expenses.
Determining Your Type of Alimony Award
What type and amount of alimony you receive, if any, is determined by the court according to the laws governing the divorce proceeding. If you believe you are entitled to alimony or if you need alimony to support yourself, make your argument to the court and provide it with documentation of your need. Many courts will not ignore a valid need for alimony in their decision.