Alimony Considerations During a Divorce

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Alimony and divorce often go together, and each person must determine how to make the most of the situation.

Divorce puts an end to a marriage, but that does not mean an end to the obligations one spouse has to the other. A divorce lawyer can help make this clear. Oftentimes, one spouse is better off financially than the other, and that means the one with less financial benefits is entitled to spousal support to help him or her establish a new life. This spousal support is also known as alimony.

There is another reason alimony is considered the rightful responsibility of the partner who is leaving the marriage with greater financial resources. It is recognition that each spouse contributed to the financial wellbeing of the marriage. Alimony is compensation for the contribution made by one partner even though that spouse may have fewer resources than the other. This type of compensation is typically seen when one spouse stays home to raise the children.

Alimony is sometimes paid through a permanent arrangement and other times may be a lump sum. The circumstance of each partner is taken into consideration when the court decides the amount and for how long it will be required.

Choosing Which Option

Rehabilitative is the term used to describe alimony when it is ordered to be paid for a specific period of time. This gives the recipient funds to be used to obtain the job skills necessary for helping them become self-sufficient. This is also the type of spousal support that a parent with custody of small children will be awarded if continuing to stay home to care for the children.

Divorce agreements typically specify the duration of rehabilitative support payments, but they must also be reviewed at the end of that period of time. As a matter of fact, divorcing couples or courts are required to include this review provision in their agreement.

Still, the paying spouse can request that this review process not be included, but it will ultimately be up to the court to okay that stipulation or override it if illness, incapacity, or other hardship makes it necessary.

Lump-Sum Alimony

Lump-sum alimony may be granted in place of a property settlement in some cases. This fixed amount is paid without regard to whether the recipient is cohabitating, remarried, or financially independent. It can also be paid to a deceased recipient’s estate in an amount equal to the total future monthly payments.

Permanent Spousal Support

Permanent spousal support only goes away with the death of one or the other divorced partner. In some states, if the recipient of spousal support begins a cohabitative relationship with someone else, their spousal support will be suspended.

In such instances, the court must determine if the arrangement is similar to a marriage or if the recipient is receiving financial support from the third party.


Adjustments to permanent alimony payments may be made if circumstances change for the recipient. For instance, they may get a better paying job, receive an inheritance or other major change that alters income. They may even incur medical expenses that are not covered by insurance.

Divorce or Separation?

Many couples choose to separate instead of divorce, and when this happens, temporary alimony may be paid to one spouse or the other. This, too, is subject to adjustment if it is just an agreement between the two parties and not filed in court.

These are just some of the things you should consider when thinking about alimony and divorce.