In general, there are four types of alimony.
Temporary Alimony: Support ordered when the parties are separated prior to divorce. Also called alimony pendente lite, which is Latin, meaning, “pending the suit”.
Rehabilitative Alimony: Support given to a lesser-earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work outside the home and become self-sufficient.
Permanent Alimony: Support paid to the lesser-earning spouse until the death of the payor, the death of the recipient, or the remarriage of the recipient.
Reimbursement Alimony: Support given as a reimbursement for expenses incurred by a spouse during the marriage (like educational expenses).
Some of the possible factors that bear on the amount and duration of the support are:
|Length of the marriage or civil union||Generally alimony lasts for a term or period, that will be longer if the marriage or civil union lasted longer. A marriage or civil union of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.|
|Time separated while still married||In some U.S. states, separation is a triggering event, recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. Other U.S. states do not recognize separation or legal separation. In a state not recognizing separation, a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated like a 10-year marriage.|
|Age of the parties at the time of the divorce||Generally more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to ‘get on’ with their lives, and therefore thought to require shorter periods of support.|
|Relative income of the parties||In U.S. states that recognize a right of the spouses to live ‘according to the means to which they have become accustomed’, alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.|
|Future financial prospects of the parties||A spouse who is going to realize significant income in the future is likely to have to pay higher alimony than one who is not.|
|Health of the parties||Poor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support oneself. The courts do not want to leave one party indigent.|
|Fault in marital breakdown||In U.S. states where fault is recognized, fault can significantly affect alimony, increasing, reducing or even nullifying it. Many U.S. states are ‘no-fault’ states, where one does not have to show fault to get divorced. No-fault divorce spares the spouses the acrimony of the ‘fault’ processes, and closes the eyes of the court to any and all improper spousal behavior. However, in Georgia a person who has an affair that causes the divorce is not entitled to alimony.|
|Gender of the recipient||In general, females may be more likely to be granted alimony than males because, historically, males made more money than females, partly due to having had fewer gaps in employment.|
Alimony Reform in the United States
In the United States family laws and precedents as they relate to divorce, community property and alimony vary based on state law. Also, with new family models, “working couples”, “working wives”, “stay-at-home dads”, etc. there are situations where some parties to a divorce question whether traditional economic allocations made in a divorce are fair and equitable to the facts of their individual case. Some groups have proposed various forms of legislation to reform alimony parameters (i.e. amounts and term). Alimony terms are among the most frequent issues causing litigation in family law cases. Eighty percent of divorce cases involve a request for modification of alimony.