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What Are My Spousal Support Options in a Divorce?

Spousal support has evolved quite a bit over the years. No longer is alimony assumed to be payments from a man to his ex wife — today, anyone can request alimony, including men, women, and same-sex couples.

If you were recently divorced, you have options when it comes to alimony payments. If you believe you were financially wronged in your marriage, or deserve financial support, we’re here to fight for you.

What Are My Alimony Options?

Though you’ve probably heard the word before on TV and in movies, “alimony” isn’t simply defined as giving money to or receiving money from an ex. Often, there are more regulations put on alimony payments than people realize.

Some of the most common types of alimony include:

Rehabilitative Alimony

Rehabilitative alimony is typically granted for a specific time period. The goal of rehabilitative alimony isn’t to support a former spouse, but to provide them with the money needed to gain job skills or an education that will allow them to become self-sufficient. Once the receiving spouse can provide for themselves, alimony payments will stop.

Lump-sum Alimony

As its name implies, this is a one-time, fixed payment granted to a former spouse, often in lieu of a property settlement.

Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony begins once the couple is formally divorced and continues until the receiving spouse passes away or is remarried. However, it’s also possible for permanent alimony to be ended if the receiving spouse enters into a serious relationship with another person who begins providing for them. And though it may be permanent, it is possible to have payment amounts amended in the event of a major life change. Should the recipient receive a raise, win the lottery, be awarded a settlement, or receive an inheritance, their payments may be reduced or stopped entirely.

Reimbursement Alimony

Reimbursement alimony can be thought of as payback. Take, for example, a spouse who pays for their partner’s schooling and immediately after graduation, the couple gets a divorce. Because the money given was an investment in the couple’s future, the spouse who attended school would have to reimburse their ex.

Temporary Alimony

If a couple separates, but isn’t formally divorced yet, one spouse may be awarded temporary alimony. And just like with all other forms of alimony, temporary spousal support can be adjusted.

How is Alimony Determined?

There’s no such thing as a standard alimony agreement — every case is unique and based on a number of different factors. If you’re looking to get spousal support, the decision will be based on:

  • Your age, physical health, and emotional state.
  • You and your ex’s current financial situation.
  • At what age you got married and how long you were married for.
  • How long it would take you to become self-sufficient.
  • What your standard of living was like when you were married.
  • If your ex has the means to support him or herself in addition to alimony payments.

Is Spousal Support Forever?

While some former spouses are awarded alimony for the rest of their life, that’s not as common as people think. More often than not, spousal support is a temporary means.

How Does Alimony Differ From Child Support?

Though alimony and child support both involve one party giving money to their former spouse, the biggest distinction is how that money can be spent. Child support payments are to be spent on minor children — their food, extra curricular activities, clothes, etc. Though there are sometimes regulations put on spousal support checks (such as your support having to be spent on schooling or rent), alimony payments generally have fewer restrictions.

And unlike child support, which must be paid until the child turns 18, spousal support doesn’t have one, universal timeframe. Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum, monthly installments for a set period of time, or life-long payments.

E. Evan Cope, PLLC is a dedicated, tough, and experienced litigator who has practiced law in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and throughout Middle Tennessee since 2001. Contact our law office today online or at (615) 640-4241 to request an initial consultation.