Alimony, also called spousal support/maintenance, is financial support from one spouse to another based upon the financial situation of the supported spouse at the time of the divorce proceedings. There are four main types of alimony that can be awarded.
Temporary Spousal Support/Alimony
Temporary spousal support is given when the parties are separated and the divorce is not yet final. This type of support is provided so that the spouse can maintain his/her lifestyle between the time of separation and divorce. It is necessary due to the length of time it could take before the final divorce decree is issues and a permanent alimony award is given. It is up to the discretion of the court as to whether an award of temporary alimony is warranted.
Rehabilitative Spousal Support/Alimony (Short-Term Support)
Rehabilitative spousal support is award for a short period and is used to support the spouse during a period of retraining or re-education for re-entry into an education or job experience, enabling them to become more self-sufficient. This kind of spousal support is normally set for a fixed period, and the parties can agree to a time line. If they cannot agree on one, the court will mandate one for them. If you are the one receiving the rehabilitative support, you want to be sure that your final divorce decree states that the need for spousal support is subject to later review, which allows the courts to look at the facts of a case and determine if the support should be continued, discontinued, or modified.
The courts are more compelled to award this type of alimony when a spouse seeking it has potential for establishing a viable career in the near future.
Permanent Spousal Support/Alimony (Long-Term Support)
After a long marriage, generally longer than 10 years, permanent support may be granted if the judge concludes that the dependent spouse will most likely not go back into the workforce and will need indefinite support. Permanent may end if either the recipient or payor dies, or if the recipient remarries. In some states, it ends if the recipient begins living with another person in a marriage-like relationship where the couple provides mutual support and shares financial responsibilities.
Permanent alimony becomes effective on the day of the final dissolution of the marriage. It can come in various forms:
– Periodic payments (monthly)
– Lump sum payments
– Annuity payments
– Trust payments
– In-kind payments (i.e. making direct payments for services)
Reimbursement Spousal Support
This is the only type of spousal support that is not fully based on financial need. It is instead a way to compensate a spouse who had sacrificed education, training or career advancement during the marriage by taking any job that would support the family, while the other spouse obtained a more profitable career. Reimbursement support ends whenever the agreement or court order says it does. The termination of this type of spousal support is generally not tied to an event such as the supported spouse finding work or remarrying.