How Alimony Amounts Are Determined in Mississippi

One key issue in divorce proceedings is determining the value of alimony – the allowance the law creates for one spouse to receive from the other for financial support. The state of Mississippi has specific guidelines for defining alimony and how different situations affect the amounts given.

How Mississippi Law Defines Alimony

In Mississippi, there are three types of alimony: lump sum, periodic payment, and rehabilitative. The first is a fixed and final dollar amount paid in one payment or over a set of payments over a period of time. In this instance, the court cannot change the amount once it’s been decided nor does death or remarriage of either spouse affect it. Periodic payments can change and end at the death of either spouse or the recipient spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation. Rehabilitative is temporary alimony that judges can award for a set, typically limited, period. The goal is to help the receiving spouse pay for education and training to get a job and become economically self-sufficient.

In either instance, the court has to decide on a specific amount. It will take various factors into account, including health, earning capacities of both spouses, all sources of income, reasonable needs and care of children, and living expenses. Taxes also come into play during this process.

Mississippi courts try to set alimony amounts that set a similar standard of living for the spouse receiving the support. Amounts must be deemed reasonable and must reflect the income and earning realities for both parties.

In a periodic payment case, either spouse can ask the court to change the amount based on new hardships (but not those purposely brought on to reduce the amount). The court can also consider emergency situations.

Does Adultery Affect Alimony Amounts?

Although Mississippi judges have quite a bit of legal range when it comes to alimony, it can’t be awarded as “punishment” for bad behavior. The court will look at many of the factors listed above plus any future considerations. However, if the judge is awarding lump sum alimony for property division purposes, fault can’t be considered as it is only a factor in periodic alimony cases. Adultery is an absolute ban to periodic alimony with the only exception being when you are destitute.

Suppose adultery played a more significant financial role in the reason for the split (like using marital funds to finance the affair or outside relationship). In that case, the judge may consider the situation with more weight.

What Happens When a Spouse Cannot Pay Alimony

If a spouse isn’t paying support for all sorts of reasons, a judge could issue a contempt of court ruling against the paying spouse that would lead to a lien or wage garnishment to make up the lost amount. In any case, the recipient spouse should keep good records along the way of each payment to know how much he/she has earned and how much to expect in future payments.


If you’re facing the potential of alimony in a divorce, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable divorce attorney to understand your rights and options. Contact the Law Offices of Rusty Williard today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule a free consultation for your specific situation.