There are several types of alimony: Permanent, Rehabilitative, Durational, Bridge-the-Gap, Lump Sum, and Temporary. If you are an alimony candidate or facing the potential for an alimony obligation, I will discuss the different types of alimony, and when each is appropriate. Several factors are analyzed, but a determination of alimony will always consider “Need and Ability to Pay”, whether the recipient has the need, and whether the payor has the ability to pay.
In determining whether alimony is appropriate, the court will consider the standard of living during the marriage, length of the marriage, age, physical and emotional condition of the parties, the financial resources of the parties, the earning capabilities of the parties, the contribution of the parties (such as homemaking, taking care of children, career building, etc.) responsibilities for minor children of the marriage after the divorce, tax treatment, sources of income, and other factors. Generally, infidelity will not be a factor, unless the infidelity caused a dissipation of the marital assets or increased the marital debts.
Permanent alimony is considered in long-term marriages (over 17 years) and on occasion may be granted in cases where a party became disabled during the marriage. Permanent alimony is modifiable if there is a substantial change in circumstances, but it continues until the death of a party, remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony, or until further order of the court. Permanent alimony may be modified or reduced if the payee is in a supportive relationship, where the former spouse is being supported in some way by a third party or is supporting a third party.
Durational alimony is an option for "Moderate" term marriages between 7-17 years. The same factors are considered as in a Permanent alimony case. Durational alimony is awarded for a certain set time period, which can be awarded up to the term of the marriage. Durational alimony is modifiable as to the amount based on a substantial change in circumstances, but not duration. Durational alimony also terminates when either party dies, or if the payee spouse remarries.
Bridge-the-Gap alimony is normally for short-term marriages under 7 years or can be combined with other forms of alimony. This alimony provides support for a transitionary period of no more than 2 years to assist a spouse with short-term needs to move from married life to single life. This can be ordered in a lump sum, or in a monthly payment. Bridge-the-Gap alimony is non-modifiable as to amount and duration, but it will terminate upon the death of either party or remarriage by the party receiving the alimony.
Rehabilitative Alimony is for a spouse who is planning to go to school or back to work and needs to be trained. To request rehabilitative alimony, the spouse must have a detailed plan to present to the court, which may include the cost of tuition and other school expenses, and living expenses while attending school. The spouse will need to demonstrate that after receiving the rehabilitative alimony, the spouse will earn enough from the rehabilitation to reduce an otherwise need for alimony.
Temporary Alimony and Temporary Attorney's Fees may be awarded during the marriage. The Court will determine whether there is a need by the requesting spouse, and an ability to pay by the payor spouse. The length of the marriage is not determinative in a temporary alimony decision. Even a party in a short-term marriage may be obligated to pay temporary alimony. During the marriage, the Court will require the parties to maintain the "status quo" and both parties are entitled to equal legal representation.
As of January 1, 2019, the tax laws were change in relation to alimony. Alimony is no longer deductible by the payor and is not taxable to the payee.