Alimony payments are typically made when one spouse will be financially burdened by the divorce due to expectations from the marriage.
For example, perhaps you and your spouse had promising careers when you got married, but they were in different cities. You gave your career up so that your spouse could keep working, and you moved to that city. You only did it because your spouse was supposed to support you financially. Now you’re getting divorced 20 years later, and you can’t jump-start that career again, so you still need the support.
If you do get it, there are typically three ways that your spouse will pay it to you.
- In standard payments for life. This is called permanent alimony. It could end at some point — if you get married again or if both of your financial situations change, for instance — but that end date isn’t established beforehand.
- In standard payments for a fixed amount of time. For instance, your spouse may be ordered to pay for five years. This is to give you time to get back into the workforce, and it’s often called rehabilitative alimony.
- In one payment up front. This is just a lump sum. For example, your spouse could be ordered to pay $5,000 per month for 10 years or $600,000 all at once. Some couples prefer this because then they don’t have to be in contact every month.
Alimony could be one of the biggest aspects of your divorce, a significant asset that you can’t ignore. Be sure you understand all of your legal rights and obligations, no matter which side you’re on.
Source: Forbes, “What Divorcing Women Need To Know About Alimony ‘Reform’,” Jeff Landers, accessed Oct. 06, 2017