Permanent spousal support, also called lifetime alimony, is intended to last for the remainder of the receiving spouse’s life. This arrangement is less common nowadays than it used to be.
A local spousal support attorney can help determine whether lifetime alimony is a feasible option in your case. Let a New Haven permanent spousal support lawyer protect your post-divorce interests.
Another way to look at the definition of permanent alimony is that the payment itself is non-modifiable, meaning the amount cannot be increased or decreased following the order. Some couples might agree to make alimony non-modifiable in light of their agreement with respect to the division of assets and debts.
For example, a spouse who wants to retain a certain asset may agree in exchange for same to make the amount and period of alimony non-modifiable, meaning they are unable to return to court to seek a reduction in their obligation based on an increase or decrease in income. Such arrangements may or may not be advisable based on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.
The amount of alimony is almost always modifiable because it is common for the parties’ financial circumstances to change. For instance, if one party loses their job or retires, that typically provides a basis for alimony to be recalculated. A non-modifiable alimony award that lasts for the remainder of the payee’s life are uncommon, and in most cases unadvisable.
When alimony is not awarded on a lifetime basis, the payment duration for spousal support is typically around half the length of the marriage. However, other factors such as sharing children, unrealized earning capacities, or health concerns can impact the duration of spousal support, and a judge is provided broad discretion to determine the most appropriate alimony period.
When there are children involved, alimony is often awarded to the parent who is primarily responsible for the children, meaning they have physical custody of the children, where that parent also has a lower income or earning capacity than the other spouse. In many cases, alimony is at least ordered to carry a person through their children aging out of child support and becoming adults and eventually leaving the home.
While alimony based on half the length of the marriage is a general rule of thumb, there is no formula for calculating spousal support. Whether a spouse is awarded temporary or permanent alimony is based on a judge’s discretion as to whether one party needs a certain amount of time to get back on their feet or to establish their own income. Thus, the term of spousal support will depend on what the parties’ needs are in the specific case.
Most alimony awards include conditions to allow for support to automatically terminate, such as the death of either party or the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. In Connecticut, it is common to make alimony subject to the Cohabitation Statute, which says that if the party receiving alimony begins to live with another individual and that cohabitation improves their financial circumstance, the party paying the alimony has a basis upon which to return to court and request that alimony be terminated or reduced.
Lifetime alimony may be ordered after a very long marriage or where the parties are beyond retirement. Once parties are retired, their incomes typically might consist of Social Security payments, distributions from pensions and other retirement assets, and possibly passive income from other investment vehicles. Social security is treated as permanent income in an alimony analysis. Once pensions are in pay status, a judge can decide whether to treat the asset as income or an asset. While other retirement assets such as 401ks are generally subject to property division and not regarded as income.
Examples of what judges must examine to determine a need for permanent spousal support include:
If you are divorcing or preparing to divorce your spouse and have questions about your right to lifetime alimony, connect with an attorney at our firm. Our New Haven permanent spousal support lawyers can also help advocate for or refute a need for lifetime alimony. Whatever your exact needs are, our firm can help. Call today to learn more.