Alimony or spousal support has undergone many changes in the last few decades; no longer is it standard in divorce cases and no longer should one spouse expect a certain amount from the other spouse when they divorce. However, permanent alimony is still a provision in many areas although it may not work exactly as some people assume. Consider a few factors about this arrangement.
Why Alimony is Awarded
Gone are the days when women just automatically received alimony because it was assumed she could never work and support herself. Men can receive alimony if the wife was the major breadwinner in the house, and if a woman has a job and a means of support, she may receive little to no alimony at all.
Alimony is also structured so as to support someone with the expectation that they would eventually become self-sufficient. For example, rehabilitative alimony is awarded for a limited time so a spouse can go to school and learn the skills needed to get a job. Alimony may also be temporary if a spouse is expected to stay home with underage children for a certain number of years, but then stops when they are no longer expected to be at home.
Permanent alimony is usually only awarded in cases where a spouse is not expected to be able to be self-sufficient, for example, if they have health problems or are of a particular age that would prevent them from working. It may also be awarded after a very long marriage when one spouse became dependent financially on the other.
Is Permanent Really Permanent?
While this arrangement may be called permanent alimony, typically it’s not as permanent as you might think. Permanent alimony may be rescinded if an ex-wife or ex-husband remarries, gets a job that betters their financial situation significantly, or otherwise receives money such as from an inheritance. If the payer faces financial setbacks it may also be rescinded or adjusted accordingly.
Cohabitation often counts as a remarriage with many courts so this too may reduce or eliminate alimony payments. When a spouse dies the alimony payments typically also cease and are not binding on either party’s heirs.
It’s always good to speak with a divorce attorney about alimony no matter your questions as laws vary from state to state, and no two situations are alike. An attorney can advise on your rights and what you can expect in divorce court when it comes to alimony of any kind.