The Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Alimony During Divorce

Alimony and Divorce

Married couples who find themselves heading towards divorce, may have to get the help of a divorce lawyer in Bloomington, IL to mediate over alimony payments or have a court judge make this determination for them. It is understandable that spouses who have parted ways may be concerned about their financial status. If one spouse would have a significant change in standard of living because of the separation, then the other spouse may have to submit payments on a recurring schedule either temporarily or permanently.

What Alimony Does

Alimony (otherwise called spousal support or maintenance) may be enforced after two spouses decide to divorce. An official written agreement or order declares that one spouse must make payments to the other for a designated period of time. If a spouse fails to uphold their responsibility to pay, consequences are likely to result.

Even though specific laws pertaining to alimony vary by state, most court systems want to ensure that both spouses maintain a reasonable standard of living after parting ways. Going through the process of divorce can be agonizing enough, so adding financial hardship on top of that can be devastating. The intention of alimony is to reduce unfair economic changes due to the divorce, by providing a supportive income to the lesser or non-earning spouse.

Immediate Temporary Alimony

When temporary alimony is established, it is usually to provide immediate, short-term financial support to the lower-earning spouse until a permanent alimony award is set in place. Considerations when calculating alimony may include factors like both spouse’s income, health insurance costs, earning capacity, whether there are shared children, and overall lifestyle. Many law firms across the country have software that can estimate a temporary alimony figure. But ultimately, a court judge can decide how much and for how long alimony is enforced.

Long-Term Permanent Alimony

Permanent alimony is different from temporary alimony, in that the latter is meant to help support a spouse in need during the divorce proceedings. Permanent alimony can turn long-term if the spouse needs consistent assistance maintaining the same standard of living as during the marriage, even after the divorce is complete.

Divorcing spouses do have the opportunity to establish permanent alimony on their own through mediation or negotiation. However, if they are unable to reach an agreement they are likely to end up in court over the matter instead. A judge may ask both spouses questions about their marriage and current financial status when deciding the outcome of alimony payments. A judge may factor the following when making their decision:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Paying spouse’s ability to support the financial needs of the other spouse
  • Marital standard of living
  • Spouse’s debts and assets
  • The degree to which the supporting spouse contributed to paying spouse’s career, training, license, or education
  • The extent to which the spouse now in need had their earning capacity impaired during the marriage due to domestic duties
  • The receiving spouse’s ability to work outside the home, to where it doesn’t interfere with caring for dependent children

Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into family law and the differences between temporary and long-term alimony.