Spousal maintenance can be “permanent” or “temporary”, otherwise known as “rehabilitative”, depending upon the court’s assessment of whether the spouse seeking maintenance is likely to become self-supporting after a period of rehabilitation or retraining. In other words, a temporary or rehabilitative award is more likely when the lower income spouse seems capable of becoming self-sufficient in a reasonable matter of time. In cases where the spouse’s ability to become self-supporting is uncertain, the court is directed to order a permanent award.
Modifying Spousal Maintenance Orders:
Both rehabilitative and permanent spousal maintenance awards are subject to modification if there is a change of circumstances, which renders the current spousal maintenance order unreasonable and unfair. When such a change of circumstances may occur is decided on a case-by-case basis and depends upon the circumstances of both parties.
However, by agreement of the parties, the court may lose jurisdiction to amend, extend or even order any spousal maintenance if there has been a full and fair disclosure of each spouse’s financial circumstances, if the agreement is supported by some type of consideration (i.e. a lump sum payment from one spouse to the other or even the mutual waiver of support), and that the court finds the agreement to divest the court of jurisdiction to modify or order spousal maintenance is fair and equitable under the circumstances. This type of an agreement is often referred to as a “Karon waiver.” If there is a valid Karon waiver, the court may not modify the spousal maintenance order under any circumstances.
There are several different types of alimony that you or your spouse could be awarded in a divorce. They are all unique and require different circumstances:
Temporary Alimony – Can be awarded as a non-permanent solution until the agreements are made final.
Permanent Alimony – Can be awarded as a monthly payment to maintain the standard of living set forth in the marriage. Normally this type of alimony is reserved for individuals who have been in a long-term marriage.
Rehabilitative Alimony – Can be awarded when one spouse has let his or her professional or educational status lapse due to marital duties. This type of alimony will usually be paid until the individual has gotten his or her professional status back up or has finished his or her education.
Lump Sum Alimony – Sometimes permanent alimony can be awarded in one lump sum. The amount of money given to one spouse from the sale or division of property is also sometimes referred to as lump sum alimony.
Transitional Alimony – Can be awarded to help one spouse transition from married to single living (for example, the money can go to hire a moving truck or to pay a down payment on a new living situation).
Durational Alimony – Can be awarded as a monthly payment for a limited time, no longer than the marriage.
A common question posed by people paying permanent spousal maintenance is whether spousal maintenance may be terminated, or at least modified, upon retirement. In many cases the court will grant a termination or modification of spousal maintenance at retirement, however, requesting a modification or termination upon retirement should be carefully planned in consultation with an attorney. The attorneys at Arnold & Rodman PLLC are experienced in pursuing and defending against modifications of spousal maintenance and can assist you in addressing your spousal maintenance concerns.
Author: Valerie Arnold, Esq.; MGC
Source: Types of Alimony / Spousal Support, National Paralegal College