Understanding Alimony

Understanding AlimonyIn many instances a divorce requires more than two people simply cutting ties and going in separate directions. For example, if children are involved the court may require one party to pay child support. In other instances one party may be ordered to pay the other spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, after the divorce. While laws can vary somewhat from one state to another, the purpose of spousal support laws are fairly universal.

Courts take several factors into account when determining if one of the parties in a divorce deserves to receive spousal support. Unlike child support, where the court uses formulas and specific guidelines for calculating the amount needed to support a child, orders of spousal support take into account the specific factors of the marital lifestyle.

The dollar amount one spouse receives does not have anything to do with what the spouse feels she, or he, deserves or is entitled to in the way of financial support from their former partner. Instead, the court will order support based on the dependent partner’s inability to pay their own way.

There are several different types of spousal support and the type awarded will depend on specific factors. As these considerations can be somewhat complicated, it is advisable to discuss spousal support laws with a legal professional.

Permanent Support
This type of support typically applies only to marriages which have lasted more than 10 years and where there has been a traditional and significant difference in the income levels of the parties. In situations where one party is requesting permanent support from the other, the court will consider such issues as the partner’s standard of living and marital lifestyle. The age, health and continuing responsibilities of each partner will also be considered in setting a figure. Permanent support is generally not awarded unless the dependent party’s income is substantially lower than their partner’s.

Limited-Duration Support
As the name implies, limited-duration spousal support is most often used for marriages that have lasted only a few years. Limited-duration spousal support is meant to give the party receiving the support time to get back on their feet financially.

Rehabilitative Support
Rehabilitative support is granted to help a dependent spouse during a transition period. In some divorce situations the court may order this type of support if there is a need for vocational training or education as a way to increase earning potential. Rehabilitative support is almost always temporary in nature.

Reimbursement Support
Reimbursement support takes into account situations where one spouse supported the other while the dependent party was going to school or receiving training. Reimbursement support is the least common of all the types of alimony.

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