It’s best you understand the types of alimony available and examples of spousal support awarded if you plan to petition a court. Alimony is temporary in nature and can end with either party’s death or remarriage. But there are also permanent types of alimony as well.
The type you need depends on your situation — and how much cash you have. If you’re getting divorced and don’t want to be left destitute, see if you qualify for any state assistance programs like Medicaid (which covers 60 percent) or food stamps (which cover more than 50 percent).
You may even be able to get help from family members who aren’t exactly thrilled about your impending split up. Meanwhile, check out some basic tips on what kind of spousal support you should look into when you’re going through a breakup. Here’s an explainer of all those different forms of spousal support.
If you’ve been married less than three years before filing for divorce, then chances are your marriage isn’t long enough to warrant a full-fledged award of alimony, and so may not qualify for typical alimony payments.
The first thing you’ll want to do is talk to an attorney because while this sort of arrangement might work under certain circumstances, the courts typically prefer couples wait at least three years before they go ahead with a divorce.
This gives both parties time to adjust to life without each other and allows them to establish whether or not they still love one another. Temporary arrangements usually last between six months and two years, depending on the state where you live.
So why would anyone agree to such type of alimony? Well, sometimes people can afford to keep paying someone else until things change drastically over the course of the relationship.
Maybe the recipient partner just needs extra income while he figures his career out. Whatever the reason, temporary alimony does exist, but only rarely.
In many cases, there is also a type of temporary alimony awarded by judges to be paid while the alimony case is being decided. It’s different from other examples of spousal support awarded.
How much to pay in temporary alimony
Your monthly payments won’t exceed 15% of your adjusted gross annual salary and usually, these agreements run for 12 months, so you’ll receive a new payment every four months.
Either party can terminate the agreement by giving written notice within 90 days of its expiration date as decided by the judge. Temporary alimony is open for renegotiation, but the success is very low.
When marriages fail, many people assume that once the legalities of ending it are taken care of, everything ends. Not necessarily. Some states offer “rehabilitative” alimony, which offers former spouses economic security in case something goes wrong down the road.
Basically, if you didn’t earn enough money to meet your expenses over the past few years, then a judge could decide to give you money instead of forcing you to sell your house, move back home, etc.
It doesn’t mean that you’d never want to work again — it just means that if typical alimony payments are made, your current lifestyle wouldn’t be forced to degenerate. This makes this type of alimony unique.
This form of alimony lasts anywhere from five to 10 years, depending on the state you live in, and it tends to be awarded to women rather than men. Why? Because women tend to stay homemakers longer than men, meaning they haven’t earned enough money yet to leave behind.
How much to pay in rehabilitative alimony
As far as specific amounts go, there hasn’t been too much research done since the program was introduced several decades ago. That said, experts say that if you were receiving $2,000 per month plus child support, then adding $1,200 toward your alimony would make sense. Again, it depends on the state and judge.
Once you enter into a rehabilitative maintenance agreement, you’re free to seek employment elsewhere if you choose. No matter how bad your ex wants to throw you out, legally speaking, you own your apartment and furnishings. Also, no one knows your debts unless you tell them.
Most divorces involve some sort of property settlement, and permanent alimony falls right in line with that category. When you file for divorce, you list all assets owned jointly and divide them accordingly.
Then, based on what you currently earn, determine how much of your joint assets you actually use. For example, if you spend half your take-home pay on housing costs alone, then dividing the remaining amount equally among yourselves leaves your ex with nothing.
Of all the types of alimony, permanent alimony helps solve this problem. Instead of splitting it evenly, you allocate your funds based on how necessary your living expenses are.
After subtracting taxes, mortgage interest, utilities, and insurance figure out how much of the remainder constitutes your actual household budget, and allocate the rest proportionately between yourself.
How much to pay in permanent alimony
Of course, this calculation varies greatly based on your individual situation, but will enable you to arrive at examples of spousal support awarded::
For couples earning $50,001-$250,000 annually, you’d pay 33%, whereas lower earners would shell out 22%. These percentages increase yearly according to inflation.
Finally, once you’ve determined how much money you’re allocated, you simply repay whatever remains at regular intervals. According to the National Association of Social Workers, repayment periods average about 20 years, although some folks opt for shorter terms of 3 to 5 years.
Unlike the temporary type of alimony, permanent alimony payments must always fall below 25% of your net worth. Additionally, if you die prematurely, your survivors aren’t eligible for future installments.
Some people think permanent alimony is unfair
People who were not aware of typical alimony payments used to believe that women couldn’t handle taking care of themselves financially, nor should they be required to hold onto large sums of money.
Nowadays, though, our culture says otherwise. Men and women alike need to learn skills related to managing finances in order to survive, especially now that single mothers are raising children on their own.
Otherwise, they risk becoming dependent upon government assistance programs like welfare and disability benefits.
Sometimes, the couple splits up before they finish paying off their debts. Other times, they part ways after spending years together building up sizable savings accounts. Still, they continue to coexist amicably.
Regardless of what caused the divorce, having to come up with thousands of dollars immediately in order to buy a car, start a business venture, or open a 401(k) makes matters worse. This is one of the types of alimony that’s uniquely known for such.
Reimbursement alimony solves this dilemma by allowing you to reimburse yourself over a period of years. While most recipients only receive small lump sum payments, these monies grow steadily as you save more over time.
Essentially, you put money aside that belongs to your soon-to-be former husband and slowly build up a fund that eventually becomes available to you. It forms typical alimony payments.
How much to pay in reimbursement alimony
Anybody who earns less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,825 for 2014) qualifies for this type of alimony, provided they incur additional qualifying expenses.
Qualifying expenses include:
- Mortgage payments
- Childcare expenses
- Renters’ health insurance premiums
- Other miscellaneous expenses
As a result, older retirees who rely heavily on social services tend to benefit the most from reimbursement alimony. Like pension plans, these awards vary significantly year-to-year based on fluctuations in the stock market.
They’re generally pretty modest amounts, averaging around $3,000 per month, but unlike pensions, they don’t vest.
Is Reimbursement alimony fair?
Critics argue that Reimbursement alimony unfairly penalizes hardworking taxpayers who contribute to retirement plans. On the flip side, proponents claim that it incentivizes people to become self-sufficient earlier. They claim this reduces public expenditures.
Whichever type of alimony you qualify for, one thing everyone agrees on is that the system works best when beneficiaries already have substantial savings stashed away beforehand.
Even though alimony laws differ slightly across states, the bottom line is that none of them require you to remain destitute following a divorce. Unfortunately, the word “none” carries lots of baggage when we talk of typical alimony payments.
Most people associate it with the idea of absolute powerlessness, but it also sounds very cold and impersonal. Hopefully, this article helped shed some light on potential outcomes associated with various alimony options.
Just remember that ultimately, it’s your call. Don’t let fear of types of alimony prevent you from moving forward. Just be sure you know about examples of spousal support awarded.