Alimony Isn't Always Permanent: Clearing Up Misconceptions

Law Blog

If you are going through a divorce, you may be concerned that you may be forced to pay alimony because you earn more than your spouse. The Census Bureau found that 243,000 Americans received alimony in 2016, but not every divorce results in alimony. There are also long-term and short-term forms of spousal support.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Alimony

Temporary alimony, also known as "temporary spousal support," is only meant to be provided until you have finalized the divorce. This allows your spouse to maintain their standard of living until the trial. The alimony you must pay is based on a state formula.

While called permanent alimony, this second type of alimony is not necessarily permanent. After enough time has passed, the courts may require that your spouse prove that they are unable to become self-sufficient. The burden is placed on them to find a means of earning an income.

For example, in California, there exists the Gavron Warning. The recipient of alimony receives a warning that they need to become self-sufficient and they may suffer from a discontinuation of payments if they fail to do so.

Permanent Alimony Is Becoming Rare

Increasingly, divorce courts believe that alimony should be rehabilitative. This means that the alimony doesn't exist to permanently support the recipient but is instead meant to assist the recipient until they are able to support themselves again. The courts must determine that:

  1. The recipient of alimony earns less than the other spouse
  2. The recipient has a financial need
  3. The other spouse is able to pay

If you are worried about whether you will have to pay alimony or not, make sure to consult with a divorce attorney before you file for divorce. Whether or not you'll be required to pay temporary or permanent alimony is complicated.

Factors That Determine Whether You'll Pay Permanent Alimony

If you have had a short marriage, such as if it only lasted for five years, most courts not only will not require permanent alimony but may not require that you pay alimony at all. The age of your spouse, their occupation, their health, their other sources of income, their station in life, their estate, and whether you have children will all affect your alimony arrangement.

Temporary and permanent alimony are very complex to issues to navigate. If you are confused as you are going through your divorce, contact a divorce attorney for legal counsel and representation.


11 June 2020