What Are My Chances of Getting Alimony Indefinitely?

By Rob Jennings J.D.

The laws regarding spousal support, or alimony, vary from state to state. However, pursuant to a divorce, typically one spouse is ordered to support the other spouse based on the need of the recipient and other party's ability to pay. Awards can be lump sums, continue for a specified period of time or last indefinitely. In deciding whether to award permanent alimony, a court will take a broad look at the parties' circumstances.

The laws regarding spousal support, or alimony, vary from state to state. However, pursuant to a divorce, typically one spouse is ordered to support the other spouse based on the need of the recipient and other party's ability to pay. Awards can be lump sums, continue for a specified period of time or last indefinitely. In deciding whether to award permanent alimony, a court will take a broad look at the parties' circumstances.

Rehabilitative Alimony

Courts have broad discretion in determining the length of alimony awards once they decide that you need and should receive it. Instead of awarding permanent alimony, courts sometimes award "rehabilitative" alimony. This type of support lasts for a specified time to allow the dependent spouse to become self-supporting, often by furthering her education or with vocational training. In some jurisdictions, a spouse may only receive permanent alimony if rehabilitation is impossible. Rehabilitative alimony is more likely to be awarded in the context of a late-in-life marriage or a marriage of relatively short duration.

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Duration of the Marriage

While the specific factors a court considers when awarding alimony vary by jurisdiction, it is common for judges to place great emphasis on the duration of a marriage in deciding whether or not to award alimony on a permanent basis. If your marriage lasted for multiple decades, and you stayed home to raise children, your chances of receiving permanent alimony become greater. Homemaker spouses in long marriages have generally foregone career opportunities and structured their lives in reliance upon the marriage. Often they have done so to foster their spouses' careers. Generally, most courts believe that the longer you were married to your spouse, the more entrenched you became in a certain lifestyle and the harder it will be to reach a level where you can be self-supporting.

Age and Health Factors

Courts also commonly consider your age and physical and mental health. Just as these factors increase the amount of alimony you need, they also increase the length of time you're likely to receive it. If you have a permanent disability that hinders your employability and that can't be overcome with appropriate education or vocational training, you may be more likely to receive alimony on a permanent basis.

Modification or Termination

Even if a court does award alimony on a permanent basis, it still might not end up being truly permanent. Like child custody or child support, a party can generally petition the court to modify, or change, the terms of the award. Modifications of alimony awards must be based on substantial and material changes of circumstances affecting either the paying spouse's ability to pay or the receiving spouse's need for support. In some situations -- such as your remarriage or moving in with a romantic partner -- a court can terminate alimony no matter how much you may continue to need it.

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Spousal Support Guidelines in Virginia

References

Related articles

Wyoming Laws on Alimony

Alimony, or spousal support, is money paid by a party to a former spouse. Wyoming, like all states, has a specific set of laws governing alimony awards. Wyoming, also like all states, allows individuals to obtain a divorce without proving the other party was at fault. Alimony is not intended to punish a paying spouse, but rather to provide fair and necessary assistance to the spouse who needs it. Alimony statutes are gender neutral; both men and women can receive it.

How to Calculate Lifetime Alimony in Florida

An understanding of the factors involved in a determination of the type and amount of alimony that can be awarded creates more realistic expectations heading into court. In Florida, lifetime alimony, also known as permanent alimony, can be deemed appropriate in certain situations. While the parties can reach a mutual agreement on the issue of alimony, the court will look to specific factors, including financial need and ability to pay, in ordering lifetime alimony payment amounts. Further, modification or termination may be requested if there is a substantial change of circumstances.

Alimony Laws in Tennessee

Alimony is a monetary award paid to the financially weaker spouse after a divorce. Tennessee courts can award one of several types of alimony available, based on a number of factors that generally include duration of marriage, age and mental health of the receiving spouse, and education and potential need for training for the receiving spouse. The type of alimony awarded is based on the spouses' circumstances, and the court may award more than one type of alimony, where appropriate. The law also dictates when alimony can be modified, as well as when the obligation to pay terminates.

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