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Permanent Alimony

What is Permanent Alimony?

Alimony is defined as an “allowance out of one marital party’s estate, made for the support of the other party when living separately”. Another name for alimony is spousal support. Under the previous tax laws, it was taxable to the recipient and deductible to the payor; but under current tax law, it is no longer a taxable event.

For permanent alimony, the spouse seeking alimony must prove:

  1. A valid marriage between the parties
  2. That the parties are living in a bona fide state of separation (which means that the parties are not having marital relations once the divorce has been filed)
  3. That the claim for permanent alimony is part of a divorce or a separate maintenance action.

A spouse will NOT be entitled to an alimony settlement if it is established by a preponderance of evidence that the separation between them was caused by that spouse’s adultery or desertion. In all other cases for alimony, alimony is authorized but not required to be awarded to either spouse in accordance with the needs of the spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

Is Permanent Alimony Right for Me?

That’s really a question for the person seeking alimony. The client must be aware that alimony may end upon the occurrence of the following:

  1. The remarriage of the recipient
  2. The recipient lives voluntarily in a “meretricious” relationship with someone other than the former spouse.
  3. The death of either of the parties.

Pros and Cons of Permanent Alimony

Pros

  • Regular payments, not deemed as taxable income.

Cons

  • Sometimes the payor/obligor refuses to or is unable to pay and the recipient must file a contempt action with the court; having to file a contempt often results in a delay getting a court date; alimony award may be modifiable either up or down based on substantial change of financial circumstances.

How Does Permanent Alimony Differ From Other Types of Alimony?

Other types of alimony such as temporary alimony, periodic alimony, and especially lump sum alimony may even include the use, ownership, or possession of any property owned by the spouse, real personal, or intangible.