Alimony, which may also be referred to as spousal support, is a monthly payment made by one spouse to the other following divorce. Alimony is used to prevent any unfair economic effects of a divorce on one spouse, such as a spouse’s impaired earning potential.
There are no definite formulas for determining the amount of spousal support that a former spouse can receive. Every divorcing couple is different and the amount of support a spouse can expect to receive is based on each couple’s individual circumstances. However, some common factors that are considered include:
· Income and property of each spouse
· Earning capacity of each spouse
· Impairments in earning capacity
· Whether there are any children and who will be raising the children
· Standard of living
· Duration of marriage
· Sacrifices or contributions one spouse made to the career or education of the other spouse
Spouses that have income and earning capacity that is comparable to the former spouse’s, they will receive less in alimony. However, if the lower earning spouse has custody of the children, if the marriage was particularly long or they contributed to their former spouse’s success, the amount of alimony may be adjusted accordingly.
Many people do not realize that there are different types of alimony. Rehabilitative alimony is made for a fixed period of time to allow the receiving spouse to get a job or finish their education. It acts as a transition for the receiving spouse. Many courts will periodically review rehabilitative alimony to determine if it should be continued, discontinued or adjusted.
Former spouses may also receive reimbursement alimony. Reimbursement alimony is awarded when one spouse reimburses the other spouse for expenses incurred during the marriage. For example, if a wife works to pay for her husband to attend college, the former husband may be ordered to pay his former wife reimbursement alimony for the costs of college. The reimbursement alimony payments will only continue until the amount is paid off.
Finally, where the marriage is long or one spouse is ill, the court may order one spouse to pay permanent alimony, which will continue until the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.
While alimony is typically paid on a month by month basis, some courts have begun to allow the paying spouse to pay one lump-sum alimony payment. Lump-sum payments are really only appropriate where the amount of payment is fixed, like rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony. However, if the divorcing spouses wish, they can agree on a lump-sum alimony payment where permanent alimony is awarded. A lump-sum payment, where possible, can often be beneficial to both parties. The receiving spouse has the money immediately and does not have to deal with payment issues in the future. The paying spouse benefits by paying the amount outright, and not having to worry about making monthly alimony payments in the future. However, there are negatives with a lump-sum payment. Most lump-sum payments are less than what the receiving spouse would receive if they elected to receive monthly payments. In addition, with the receipt of such a large sum all at once, the receiving spouse may have negative tax consequences.
Whether you are the paying spousal support or the receiving spousal support, alimony can be a confusing topic. An experienced family law attorney can assist you in the process, to make sure that your rights are protected. If you live in Sonoma County, Lake County or Mendocino County California, contact our Santa Rosa Attorney office at 707-576-7175 for a free consultation.