Periodic Alimony

Periodic alimony is a form of permanent alimony usually paid in installments over time. The word ‘permanent’ can be deceptive, in that it does not necessarily mean ‘forever’. Periodic alimony is usually set for a definite period of time, although the amount of the installment payments may vary.
For example:

  • One spouse may receive periodic alimony of $2,000 per month for five years; or,
  • One spouse may receive $5,000 per month for two years, and then $2,500 per month for three years.

This form of alimony may be desirable if the recipient spouse wishes to have a ‘regular’ income stream or if the paying spouse wishes to be able to pay over time rather than in a single, larger payment. Periodic alimony also affords certain tax benefits and can contemplate the possibility of change over time.

Periodic alimony is usually tax-deductible to the paying spouse and reportable as income for the recipient spouse. It is also usually subject to end prior to payment in full should the recipient spouse die or get remarried. This form of alimony can be subject to future modifications as to the number of payments, but not as to the duration.


Modifying periodic alimony payments is incredibly difficult but possible. If modified, they usually tend to be decreased. Common reasons for modification include:

  • Loss of a job
  • Getting a new job that pays significantly more income
  • Marrying someone with a lot of money
  • Children all graduated from college
  • Children married
  • Children moved out of the state

Also, people sometimes choose to end periodic alimony payments with a final lump sum alimony payment. Periodic alimony requires an ongoing relationship between former spouses and may cause problems with the collection since payments are due over time.
To learn more about other types of alimony, including lump sum alimony, permanent alimony, and temporary alimony, take a look at my page on different types of alimony.