When you file for divorce, alimony becomes a huge deal. This spousal support can be the difference between surviving and failing for any lower-earning spouse. Alimony, which is also known as spousal support plus a qualifier, is almost always awarded in some form or another, but there are times when no alimony will be ordered at all. And even if it is, it's rare that it's permanent, and it can be ended early if the receiving spouse isn't living up to their end of the agreement.
The Different Types of Alimony
There are four main types of spousal support that you should become familiar with. Temporary spousal support is paid during the divorce proceedings so that the lower-earning spouse can continue to pay their bills as the case goes on. Rehabilitative support is paid after the divorce is finalized, for either a set amount of time or until the receiving spouse is able to support themselves financially. It can also end if the receiving spouse gets married (or otherwise enters another relationship in which they're able to be financially supported).
Permanent spousal support is awarded to a person who was married to their ex for a very long time and won't be able to work. For example, if you're divorcing a person with disabilities who can't work, you might be ordered to pay them spousal support for the rest of their life. This spousal support ends only if you die, the other person dies, or the other person remarries.
Reimbursement support is a payment plan to reimburse an ex-spouse who helped you with major costs such as putting you through school. Your ex will have to request this type of alimony, but the court could very well award it if the other spouse can provide proof that they shuffled a lot of the money they earned toward your degree.
How Long You Might Have to Pay
In addition to the qualifications listed previously, there are a few other issues that affect how long you might pay. These include substantial changes to your income; if you lose your job, for example, and don't have savings or other income, you won't be able to pay the spousal support and can petition to have it cut off.
Another time when you might be able to end the spousal support early is if the other spouse isn't doing anything to become self-supporting. This may also occur if the spouse isn't proceeding with the divorce if you're paying temporary support. In other words, if the spouse stays separated but stalls on the divorce itself and doesn't file all the forms needed, you might be able to end the support you pay.
Why Wouldn't You Get Spousal Support?
Are there times when the court will not order you to pay? Yes, if your financial situation is so dire that paying the support would mean not being able to support yourself, you could have a case. Also, if your ex-spouse has substantial financial resources of their own, the court may decide you don't have to pay anything in terms of rehabilitative or temporary support.
You'll need to work with a very good divorce lawyer to ensure any alimony agreements treat you fairly. You could find yourself making these payments for a very long time, and you want your end of the divorce agreement to allow you to continue to have a life, too. Contact a local divorce lawyer to learn more.