A generation or two ago, alimony was a common aspect of many divorces. With more spouses back then splitting roles into primary earner and primary caregiver, couples in previous decades often needed to negotiate long-term support plans.
Today, though, with more dual-earning couples, alimony is less common, and when it is granted, it tends to be more limited—just long enough to get one spouse into a better financial position. This type of alimony is known as rehabilitative alimony.
Judges award alimony for different reasons and consider a multitude of factors when determining the amount and potential length of the payments. They’ll likely look at:
In the latter two cases especially, a judge may decide to award rehabilitative alimony in order for the supported spouse to re-enter the workforce or catch up somewhat on lost earnings. The supported spouse may return to school, embark on a job training program or simply begin a new job search. If there are still young children in the household, the return to work may begin after the kids no longer need a full-time caregiver.
A judge may set a termination date for this type of alimony or may check in to see how progress is going. Other factors can, of course, end rehabilitative alimony, including:
Unlike rehabilitative alimony, permanent alimony is meant to last indefinitely—usually until one spouse dies or the supported spouse remarries. These days, courts typically don’t award this type of alimony unless the supported spouse is disabled and cannot work, or the marriage is long and one spouse has spent the bulk of it in an unpaid caregiving role.
While alimony payments can only be set by a judge, an alimony attorney can help protect your rights and position you for the best possible terms. In some cases, alimony can be completely bypassed in the settlement process. One spouse, for example, may prefer to own the home outright or take a larger portion of the savings than receive regular alimony payments.
If you’re already paying alimony, it’s also important to understand when it ends to ensure you don’t pay beyond what’s required. An alimony lawyer can help with this process. If your financial circumstances have changed dramatically since the alimony was awarded, you’ll have to request that the court change the terms. It’s not a given, and it’s also worth noting that a supporting spouse’s remarriage doesn’t affect the payment amount.
Alimony awards are ultimately up to the judge, but you’ll still need to understand your own agreement and its terms. The alimony attorneys at Bivek Brubaker & Prescott can advise you on your alimony agreement and help you understand your obligations. Contact us today by calling (866) 527-2630.