The final step in distribution of property is awarding alimony. Alimony and property division go hand-in-hand, because alimony is really just another tool used by the court to fairly divide property. This means it is determined on a case-by-case basis and there is no preset method for determining an alimony award. The court will look to how it can use an alimony award to make property division fair. For example, if one spouse is given a heftier cash asset award or a high value asset during property division or has a substantially higher income than the other spouse, the court is more likely to award alimony to the other spouse.
Alimony comes in several different shapes and sizes, but the most common characteristics include: amount, duration, modifiability, whether it survives death and/or remarriage, and the tax consequences.
Permanent alimony is becoming much rarer because forcing a person to indefinitely pay another person also forces the two people into ongoing contact, and therefore, potential for ongoing conflict. Permanent alimony may be modified.
Lump sum alimony is not taxable to the recipient or deductible for the person paying. It is a fixed amount that is not modifiable and is payable regardless of death or remarriage. The most common use of lump sum alimony is a tool to create equity. For example, in cases where a business is not liquid, the court may award a lump sum payment to the spouse not given the business for the sake of fairness.
Rehabilitative alimony is a fairly new type of alimony used to help provide stability for a spouse while he or she is preparing to re-enter the workforce. Rehabilitative alimony technically may be modified; however, most awards of rehabilitative alimony typically last only a few years.
Reimbursement alimony is awarded to a spouse whose contribution to the marriage is too complicated to recognize in the earlier property division process. For example, a spouse who supported the other through school may be awarded reimbursement alimony. Reimbursement alimony is non-modifiable.
Hybrid alimony is probably the most common type of alimony in Mississippi today, because it allows the type of alimony granted to be uniquely-fitted to the circumstances of the particular case. It is a mixture of the other type of characteristics of alimony, used to accomplish certain goals.
Whether the court decides to award alimony and the specific type of alimony awarded depends largely on your case specifically. The good thing about alimony is that it is flexible and can be molded into exactly the type to fit your case. We know property division can be a headache, but being fully informed on the current law and your options makes the entire process smoother. Not to mention, knowing the general process may help you rest easier knowing few surprises will jump out at you in the middle of the process. We are here to arm you with all the essential knowledge you need to assess your situation, see potential outcomes, and move forward with confidence.