Divorce may be the end of your marriage, but it may not be the end of your financial obligations to your former spouse. Depending on your circumstances, spousal support (also called alimony) may be a legal requirement following the events of your divorce. However, unlike child support, alimony is not a foregone conclusion. It is based heavily on the circumstances surrounding the marriage and the divorce agreement. Not everyone will have to pay alimony after a divorce. And those that do have to pay may not all pay the same amount for the same number of years.
Types Of Alimony
There are several types of alimony, and in this article, we’ll discuss the most common types. It is important to remember that alimony may not be required at all in most divorce cases. Often, a judge will allocate marital property in a way that makes alimony unnecessary. The type of alimony that is prescribed for your case is dependent upon several factors regarding the quality of life that you and your spouse enjoyed. Alimony is never used as a punishment. It is intended to provide a decent life to someone who depends on you financially.
Periodic alimony is sometimes referred to as “permanent” alimony. It is reserved for relationship dynamics in which one person is the “breadwinner,” or sole provider. In cases like these, the other spouse is usually unable to become financially independent due to advanced age, disability, or absence from the job market for an extended period of time. As the name suggests, periodic alimony is characterized by reoccurring payments over an indefinite amount of time. Another feature of this type of alimony is that it can be renegotiated. The amount of money to be paid each month can be raised or lowered depending on the needs of the people involved.
Lump-sum alimony is one or two large payments made within six months of divorce proceedings. After those initial payments, all spousal support requirements are met, and there is no need for continued contact or negotiation. This type of alimony can be particularly helpful to couples who want to get everything over with right away instead of drawing out payments over several years. It can be a negative, however, if the recipient is bad at handling money. Like winning the lottery, the lump-sum option might sound good, but it may lead to poverty later.
Rehabilitative alimony is alimony specifically designed to make the recipient financially independent. This is achieved through a court order requiring the spousal support payments to be spent on training or education. The goal is to increase the recipient’s hireability, so they eventually get to a place where alimony is no longer required. The court will set a concrete benchmark, like completing a degree or work training program. And once that is achieved, payments will stop. This is the most common form of alimony today. Like periodic alimony, renegotiation of the amount and frequency of payments is possible.
Reimbursement alimony may be appropriate in marriages where one spouse contributed heavily to the other’s education or career advancement. In cases like these, a husband who received financial assistance from his wife during the marriage may be required to pay some of those expenses back after the divorce. The court will decide upon the exact amount to be paid back, but the amount will be nonnegotiable after that.
Temporary alimony may be utilized while the divorce proceedings are being finalized. If one spouse has no finances while the marital assets are being divided, temporary alimony may be required to prevent that spouse from being made destitute during negotiations.
As you can see, calculating precisely what you would pay in alimony depends heavily on your specific circumstances and the type of alimony that the court prescribes. That said, there is a general rule of thumb: spousal support is often about 40% of the paying spouse’s net income, calculated after child support. Then, 50% of the receiving spouse’s income is subtracted from that number if the spouse is working.
Again, this is not a guaranteed formula for every divorce situation, but it can give you a general idea of the required amount. Factors that the court looks at when calculating alimony include:
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
- The length of the marriage
- Whether minor children are involved
- How marital assets are divided
If you have questions about alimony and how it will affect your divorce, call The Law Offices of Rusty Williard at (601) 824-9797.