Types of Alimony 1

The Different Ways You Can Pay Spousal Support

Alimony doesn’t always mean a lifetime of monthly payments. In fact, there are a number different types of spousal support to an ex.

Temporary Alimony

Temporary alimony is spousal support that is paid during a separation but before the divorce becomes final. This type of alimony may ultimately be continued after the divorce but not necessarily. In some cases, the alimony stops altogether when the divorce becomes final.

Rehabilitative Alimony

This type of alimony represents payments made from one spouse to another to allow the lesser-earning spouse to acquire the necessary training or education needed to become self-supporting.

Rehabilitative alimony is temporary in nature as it assumes that, once the rehabilitative process is complete, the spousal support will no longer be needed. Common instances where this would be appropriate include providing a newly single mother with young children additional support until she is able to go back to work or perhaps when one party lacks the skills necessary to earn an acceptable living. Oftentimes, rehabilitative alimony is paid to a spouse who left the workplace to raise children and will need some time to re-educate and re-orient herself to work outside the home again.

Divorce decrees that stipulate rehabilitative support will normally include a time frame for the alimony to be paid after which the spousal support is subject to review by the court. If the support is subject to review, the parties will meet again to determine if the support should continue for another fixed period of time or if changes should be made.

Reimbursement Alimony

This type of spousal support is designed to reimburse for an expense incurred by the other spouse during the marriage. The most common example of this would be to order one spouse to pay reimbursement alimony to his or her ex for providing financial support for the family while the spouse attended college or trade school.

In these instances, the paying spouse has typically advanced his or her career and usually with the understanding that both parties would benefit together from this investment as a couple. But when the parties divorce soon after the training is complete, the benefits are no longer shared between the couple but become exclusive to the party who received the education. Reimbursement alimony then can provide some relief to the spouse left behind.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is the simplest type of spousal support, providing fixed monthly payments from one spouse to another for the life of the spouse with a few provisions. Typically, permanent alimony ends when either spouse dies or when the receiving spouse remarries. If the receiving spouse were to come into a large amount of money, alleviating the need for alimony, that could also be cause to have the alimony order lifted or at least reduced.

In addition, permanent alimony can usually be modified under certain circumstances such as a change in income for either spouse or an illness or unforeseen emergency. The adjustment can be permanent or temporary and can go up or down, depending upon the circumstances fueling the modification, depending on specific state law and depending on the terms of the divorce decree.

Lump-Sum Alimony

Instead of monthly payments, the parties can agree (or the court can order) one party to pay a lump-sum amount to the other.

In this instance, the spousal support is in the form of a one-time payment and is often done instead of an adjustment in the property settlement. Lump-sum alimony can also present some tax advantages and is usually paid regardless of whether or not the receiving spouse remarries or satisfies some other type of exception that would normally end a spousal support order.

Property Distribution

In lieu of cash, spousal support can be paid through the property distribution process. This is basically the equivalent of a lump-sum payment since the property is divided during the divorce and the receiving spouse takes ownership of the property at that point.


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