How Mississippi Courts Determine the Amount of Spousal Support

Going through a divorce is never easy. The emotional and financial stress can be overwhelming, and dealing with the legal requirements can seem impossible. However, one of those legal requirements that must be addressed is whether spousal support (known as alimony) will be part of your divorce agreement.

Spousal support can certainly add to the burden you already feel, but understanding how it works can often put your mind at ease. Historically, it was designed to support a spouse who couldn’t support themselves after a divorce, usually due to traditional roles where one spouse was the primary earner. Today, the approach is more balanced, and considers both parties’ financial needs before awarding any support to either side.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of spousal support in Mississippi—its purpose, the different types, and how courts determine the right amount. If you’re seeking clarity on alimony, you’re in the right place. The Law Offices of Rusty Williard is here to guide you through this process with experience and compassion.

Types of Alimony in Mississippi

Mississippi law recognizes several types of alimony, each serving a different purpose and based upon the unique circumstances of the divorcing couple.

Periodic Alimony

Periodic alimony is ongoing support paid monthly, and is typically awarded in long-term marriages where one spouse has significantly less earning potential. This form of alimony continues until the receiving spouse remarries, either party dies, or the court modifies the order due to a significant change in circumstances.

Lump-Sum Alimony

Lump-sum alimony is a fixed amount paid either in one lump sum or in a few installments. Unlike periodic alimony, it cannot be modified or terminated. Lump-sum alimony is often used to equalize the division of property or provide financial support without ongoing payments. It’s a good option for divorcing couples who would prefer not to interact every month—if at all.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Designed to support a spouse while they gain the skills or education needed to become self-sufficient, rehabilitative alimony is temporary and aimed at helping the recipient transition to financial independence. This type of alimony is common in cases where one spouse sacrificed career advancement for the marriage or family.

Reimbursement Alimony

Reimbursement alimony compensates a spouse for contributions made to the other spouse’s education or career advancement during the marriage. For instance, if one spouse worked to support the other through medical school, reimbursement alimony might be awarded to recognize that investment.

Factors Considered by Mississippi Courts

When determining the amount and type of spousal support, Mississippi courts take into account various factors to ensure a fair and equitable outcome. They look at:

  • The Duration of the Marriage: Longer marriages typically result in higher alimony awards, especially if one spouse has become accustomed to a certain standard of living that they cannot maintain themselves.
  • The Earning Potential: The court evaluates each spouse’s current and future earning potential. If one spouse has significantly lower earning potential, they may receive more support to bridge the gap.
  • The Standard of Living: The lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage is a benchmark for determining support. The goal is to allow both parties to maintain a similar standard of living post-divorce.
  • Financial Needs and Obligations: The court examines the financial needs of the spouse requesting support and the ability of the other spouse to pay. This includes considering debts, assets, and overall economic health. Alimony won’t be awarded if the paying spouse can’t afford it; it’s only used when the income contributions are particularly unbalanced.
  • The Contributions to the Marriage: Non-economic contributions, such as homemaking and child-rearing, are also considered when determining if alimony is appropriate. The court finds domestic contributions to be just as valuable as financial ones, so it awards the spouse who stayed home and cared for the family.
  • Age and Health: The age and health of both spouses can influence the type and duration of support. Older or less healthy spouses may receive more support if they are less able to care for themselves. Young people with years of employment opportunities ahead of them may not require as much alimony or may only need it for a shorter period of time.
  • Fault in Divorce: While Mississippi is a no-fault divorce state, in some cases involving adultery or abuse, the behavior of a spouse may impact alimony decisions. If the court believes one spouse significantly wronged the other, they’ll take it into consideration when they make their decision.

Tax Implications of Alimony in Mississippi

Mississippi courts also consider the tax implications of alimony to ensure that the financial arrangement is fair and sustainable for both people involved. In 2008, a change in tax laws came into effect, making alimony payments no longer tax-deductible for the paying spouse. This means that the person making the alimony payments cannot reduce their taxable income by the amount paid in alimony. And the receiving spouse does not have to include alimony payments as taxable income.

This shift aims to simplify the tax process but also means that the paying spouse might feel a greater financial burden. As a result, courts must carefully assess both parties’ financial situations to ensure that the alimony arrangement is manageable and sustainable. This includes evaluating both spouses’ income, expenses, and overall financial health to create a fair support system that considers the tax change.

How The Law Offices of Rusty Williard Can Help

At The Law Offices of Rusty Williard in Brandon, MS, we understand the personal and financial strain that divorce can bring. Our team is dedicated to providing compassionate and knowledgeable legal assistance tailored to your unique situation. Whether you need help understanding your rights or negotiating fair support terms, our experienced team is here to support you every step of the way.

Call us today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule a consultation. Let us help you secure the financial stability and peace of mind you deserve as you move into the next chapter of your life.