Alimony, or spousal support, is money that one spouse pays another after the divorce is finalized. Alimony can be ordered for multiple reasons, but these payments are always intended to support the spouse directly, not to support children. Because alimony is paid for different reasons, people often refer to these payments as different types of alimony. The Ventura divorce lawyers at The Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth explain these different types of alimony and when they are appropriate.
Types of Alimony in CA
Technically, there is one type of alimony. CA Family Code § 4320 gives multiple factors to consider when determining whether alimony is appropriate and how to calculate alimony, but it does not name different types of alimony. Instead, these names are commonly used to describe the purpose behind alimony, and they can often help people understand whether they might be entitled to alimony payments. Typically, these 5 types of alimony are broken down as follows:
Alimony can be awarded before the divorce is finalized. Alimony pendente lite roughly translates to alimony “while litigation is pending,” and it can be awarded after legal separation while your case sits in court. This alimony is not intended to last for a prolonged period, and it is usually ordered to ensure that you have the funds to pay for a lawyer and housing while your divorce case is finalized. Temporary alimony may also refer to alimony given for a very short time after the divorce is finalized so that the spouse has some extra funds for things like security deposits and moving fees while they adapt to single life.
The line between “temporary” and “rehabilitative” alimony is thin, but typically rehabilitative alimony lasts a bit longer and has a specific purpose. That purpose is getting the spouse back on their own two feet, financially. Rehabilitative alimony is common in divorces that end after years of marriage where one spouse worked and the other stayed at home with children or as a homemaker. In these cases, the stay-at-home spouse may have missed out on job experience or let a professional license lapse, and it may take some time to get the job training, education, or certification they need to establish a career they can support themselves with. Rehabilitative alimony is paid during this period to help the spouse attain financial independence.
If both spouses come out of the marriage financially strong, then there might be no need for alimony, going forward. Still, one spouse may have put in additional work to help their spouse get to their strong financial footing. Things like paying for education or professional licensing might entitle a spouse to reimbursement in the form of alimony. These expenses, paid during the marriage, could be reimbursed after the divorce through alimony payments. These payments could be small for things like licensing or training, or they could be substantial for things like college, graduate school, or professional school.
If a spouse requires medical care or has other ongoing expenses because of disabilities, illness, or age, the court might order the other spouse to pay them ongoing alimony for the rest of their lives. This “permanent alimony” may not be precisely permanent, because parties can always file to have a court modify alimony later. However, any ongoing alimony payments ordered without an end date are usually considered “permanent alimony.” These payments are rare without some considerable health issues to justify a court ordering them.
Alimony is usually paid on an ongoing basis. However, if your alimony will last for a short time or you need the money immediately, asking for the spousal support in a lump sum might be more beneficial. Instead of waiting for the money to come in month after month, you may be able to receive it now and put it towards things like buying a house or paying for education. You may also be able to restructure the payments as part of an agreement with your former spouse or invest the money as you see fit.
If you were ordered to pay permanent alimony, paying a lump-sum may be easier. Rather than paying for an unknown number of years into the future, you may be able to negotiate a current value of the payments and pay a definite amount now instead of an uncertain amount in the future. Talk to an attorney about whether receiving or paying lump-sum alimony is a good strategy in your case.
Ventura, California Spousal Support Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
If you are going through a divorce or considering filing for divorce, spousal support is always a factor worth considering. Talk to a Ventura family law attorney today for help understanding your divorce case and the spousal support payments you may need advice on. To schedule a free consultation with Bamieh and De Smeth’s alimony lawyers, contact our law offices today at (805) 585-5056.