Alimony is a common issue brought up in many Mississippi divorces. It is an element of family law in which a monetary allowance is legally allocated from one former spouse to another for the purposes of financial support. In other words, alimony is spousal support.
Just like child support, alimony has a strict set of rules that govern when and how it is used. There will be several determining factors that will decide who receives alimony and how much they will be rewarded. Unlike child support, however, spousal support is not a foregone conclusion. No one is automatically entitled to alimony the way a child is entitled to child support.
Who Will Get Alimony?
Alimony is typically petitioned to the court during a divorce by the spouse with less financial security. There are several reasons why a spouse may find themselves in this position. If one spouse has grown financially dependent on the other during the duration of the marriage, they may be entitled to alimony. This is because the unemployed spouse may have left the job market to become a homemaker or a stay-at-home parent. In the eyes of the court, this is just as much of a contribution to the marriage as the breadwinner provides. Years spent outside the workforce can make an individual inadequately trained or educated enough to jump back into a job after their divorce. In these cases, the alimony funds will be directed towards their education or training. Disability, or an inability to work, are also determining factors.
What Factors Are Considered?
In 1993, the Supreme Court of Mississippi set a precedent for what factors will contribute to an awarding of alimony in the case of Armstrong v. Armstrong. Since that ruling, all judges presiding over an alimony case consider the following twelve factors:
- The income and expenses of the parties
- The health and earning capacities of the parties
- The needs of each party
- The obligations and assets of each party
- The length of the marriage
- The presence or absence of minor children in the home, which may require that one or both of the parties either pay, or personally provide, child care
- The age of the parties
- The standard of living of the parties, both during the marriage and at the time of the support determination
- The tax consequences of the spousal support order
- Fault or misconduct
- Wasteful dissipation of assets by either party or
- Any other factor deemed by the court to be “just and equitable” in connection with the setting of spousal support.
Types Of Alimony
There are several types of alimony that a judge might determine to be necessary following a Mississippi divorce. Each serves a slightly different purpose, so the circumstances of the divorce will influence which one the judge will assign. The three most common types of alimony in Mississippi are Periodic, Lump Sum, and Rehabilitative. Let’s take a look at how they’re different.
As the name suggests, Periodic Alimony is paid at specific times; usually monthly. This is designed to be an ongoing form of alimony, which only ends when a specific date or event comes to pass. For instance, Periodic Alimony might be issued for precisely ten years and then end. Or it could continue indefinitely until the receiving spouse remarries or either spouse dies. Periodic Alimony can also be negotiated years after the divorce if a significant life event happens to either party. If the receiving spouse becomes ill, for example, the judge may raise the monthly amount to help cover the medical bills. Alternatively, if the paying spouse loses their job, the amount may be lowered.
Lump-Sum Alimony is when the spousal support is paid all at the same time. This one does not allow for changes down the road, because all payments were completed within six months of the divorce. Although the name suggests one lump sum, the payments are often broken into two equal payments. One at the time of the divorce and one within six months. This can be the best choice for couples who wish not to see each other again for reoccurring payments.
Rehabilitative Alimony is the most common form of alimony granted in Mississippi today. It removes the possibility of indefinite payments from the Reoccurring Alimony option, and it focuses the money on training and education. Once the receiving spouse has undergone a training course designed to get them back into the workforce, the payments can stop. This way, they can be supported while they learn to support themselves.
If you have questions about how alimony may impact your upcoming divorce, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797.