The Basics of Temporary and Long-Term Alimony
For separated or divorcing spouses, the topic of alimony is bound to be a heated topic, even if parting ways was amicable. Alimony is when one spouse pays money to the other on a monthly basis or through a single lump-sum payment. In some cases, the spouses are able to come to an agreement about alimony. But for others, the ultimate decision must be determined by a family court judge due to failing to reach a middle ground. Because most spouses share monetary resources during the marriage, alimony is meant to correct financial inequalities post-separation.
Spouses who are facing a separation and divorce can rely on a reputable family lawyer in Bloomington, IL for support. Until you have met with a legal professional, we have provided basic information about temporary and long-term alimony, in addition to the many forms it can take:
Temporary vs Long-Term Alimony
There are two kinds of alimony, temporary and long-term (or “permanent). Temporary support is when a spouse gets financial support from the other during the divorce process but prior to finalization. The intention of temporary alimony is to permit the spouse with fewer earnings to maintain the same quality of living as when living under one roof.
Long-term alimony may be referred to as “permanent”, but this can be misleading as the alimony may not be enforced forever. A more applicable title for permanent alimony would be “post-judgment” financial support.
Post-judgment alimony can take on many forms. For example, a common form of alimony is a set amount that can be updated as time goes on, but there is not a scheduled set date for when it ends. Another instance would be when the alimony amount is modifiable and enforced, but only for an assigned period of time. The court may decide to establish an alimony order that is paid in decreasing amounts overtime, otherwise called “step-down” orders.
Important Factors Considered by the Courts
When awarding a post-judgment alimony amount, a family court judge may review a variety of factors. Because personal earnings and economic status can vary widely based on the individual, it can be difficult to provide a general estimate unless you meet with a knowledgeable attorney on the matter. Additionally, laws pertaining to alimony can be different based on the state a person lives in.
The court often has substantial discretion in calculating the amount and for how long post-judgment alimony must be paid. In general, the most important factors courts consider when establishing terms of alimony can include:
- How long the spouses were married
- Earning potential of each spouse (such as career trajectory, skills, whether mental/physical health conditions prevent self-sufficiency)
- Property, income and shared assets
- Each spouse’s debts and obligations
- Standard of living during the marriage (and whether shared children may be impacted by the separation too)
- Whether one spouse had contributed or sacrificed for the other spouse’s education or career path
- The age of each spouse and health status
- If the paying spouse can provide for the other spouse financially while still supporting themselves
- Whether incidents of domestic violence occurred during the marriage between the spouses
Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into family law and the basics of temporary and long-term alimony.