Archive for the ‘Mississippi Alimony Articles’ Category

The End of Permanent Alimony in Mississippi?

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

While half of all marriages today do not last until “death do us part,” the financial obligations of the breadwinning spouse continue long after the divorce is final and can in fact last a lifetime.  For the receiving spouse, permanent alimony can be a lifesaver, but for those obligated to pay, it can have a devastating financial impact.  Recently, however, states and legislatures across the nation have begun to re-evaluate the concept of permanent alimony.  More and more states are doing away with or severely limiting permanent alimony awards, and soon, it appears, permanent alimony may be a thing of the past.

What is permanent alimony?

Permanent alimony is a court ordered monetary sum paid by one spouse to the other at specific intervals, usually monthly.  Permanent alimony obligations continue until either: the judgment is modified; one spouse dies; or the receiving spouse remarries.

Why was it created?

Permanent alimony was developed in an era when most men were the primary breadwinner and most wives were homemakers.  Wives often had little to no education and had devoted much of their adult life to taking care of the home, while their husbands advanced the corporate ladder.  Therefore, when divorce occurred, the home-making wives were left with little to no means of supporting themselves and their children.  Meanwhile, the husbands suffered no ill effects and had the same if not superior earning potential than they did upon entering the marriage.  In this context, the concept of permanent alimony made perfect sense.

Why have courts stepped away from awards of permanent alimony?

Family norms have changed and divorce laws must adapt along with changing family dynamics.  Today, many women pursue higher education and work throughout marriage.  Some men, on the other hand, have taken on a stay at home role and their wives function as the primary breadwinner.  In many families, both parents work and realize their career potential during the marriage.  Both spouses are capable of supporting themselves and their children upon termination of the marriage, doing away with any need for permanent alimony.

Recognizing these shifting dynamics, states have increasingly opted to do away with or severely limit awards of permanent alimony.  Mississippi is one such state.  In Mississippi, alimony will only be awarded in marriages lasting ten years or longer.  Texas passed these same reforms.  Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Utah are other states that have placed caps awards of permanent alimony, including limits on the length of time the breadwinning spouse can be forced to pay.

Factors for determining an award of permanent alimony

If you are a divorcing spouse in Mississippi who has been married for ten years or more, the following are a list of criteria that a court will look to in determining whether you should be awarded permanent alimony, and what the terms should be.  All courts will look at:

  • Each spouse’s income and expenses
  • Each spouse’s age, health, and earning potential
  • Each spouse’s needs, debts, and assets
  • Whether there are minor children in the home and childcare is needed
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Tax consequences of a alimony award
  • Fault or misconduct of a spouse
  • Wasteful dissipation of assets by a spouse

A court will weigh all of the above factors in determining a potential alimony award.  In addition to permanent alimony, courts can also award rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony.  Rehabilitative alimony is temporary alimony awarded to assist a divorcing spouse in re-entering the workforce.  Reimbursement alimony is designed to reimburse a spouse who made financial contributions during the marriage that enhanced the earning capacity of the other spouse.

Matthew S. Poole is a skilled, compassionate divorce attorney in Jackson Mississippi with experience seeking all means of alimony awards.  He will zealously fight for you to obtain the alimony award to which you are entitled.  Call Matthew today at (601) 573-7429 to schedule a consultation.

Alimony in Mississippi Divorce Cases

Monday, August 20th, 2012

In Mississippi, alimony – also known as spousal support – can come in several forms, such as permanent periodic alimony, lump sum alimony, rehabilitative alimony and reimbursement alimony.   The relevant factors in determining an alimony award in Mississippi include whether it can be modified, how payments are made, whether all at once or over a period of time, and whether it terminates upon certain conditions, such as remarriage or death of either the paying or recipient spouse.

With regard to permanent periodic alimony, this is normally available to the receiving party until he or she either remarries or dies.   Additionally, this type of alimony can also be modified if there is an unforeseeable and substantial change in circumstances.   In the event that you have exposure to this form of alimony, you must try and avoid it no matter what – as you may get stuck paying this for the rest of your life.  If you do end up having to pay this form of alimony, it is tax deductible and also, qualifies as income to your former spouse.

As for lump sum alimony, this is payable to your former spouse as a lump sum payment, as its name suggests.  This type of alimony however, unlike permanent periodic alimony, generally cannot be modified, is not tax deductible, and does not lapse upon the death or remarriage of either the receiving or paying spouse.  This form of alimony is often ideal for a person who may be liable to a spouse, as it has a set end date, whether paid all at once or in installments.

While lump sum alimony can be awarded for a myriad of reasons, rehabilitative alimony is typically awarded to a spouse in order to help them become more self-supportive and also, to prevent insolvency.  Often times, if a spouse wants to go back to school or obtain some other form of vocational training, rehabilitative alimony is usually the best option.   Lastly, reimbursement alimony is a type of alimony that essentially pays a spouse back for allowing the other spouse to advance their own professional objectives.   A prime example of this type of alimony is when a lawyer’s wife decided to take care of the home and kids while her spouse went to law school.

If you are considering getting a divorce in Mississippi, it is best to consult with an attorney experienced in handling the various nuances and complexities associated with these types of cases.  Don’t go about your case alone, which can make you more vulnerable to various liabilities, such as alimony.  Only an attorney can assist you in determining what your legal options are, the nature and extent of your rights and responsibilities, and how to limit your potential liability.  Give us a call now – we look forward to the opportunity of providing you with excellent and sophisticated representation.

Contact Mississippi alimony lawyer Matthew S. Poole for a consultation by calling (601) 573-7429 today. 

I am divorcing in the State of Mississippi, is my spouse entitled to alimony?

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

There are several misconceptions about alimony and its applicability when dealing with domestic cases in the State of Mississippi.  Some states do present unique alimony laws, although those in Mississippi tend to be relatively moderate in terms of their application.  It’s important to realize that alimony’s not the only possibility for disbursement of funds by an ex-spouse.  See a discussion regarding marital assets and the Ferguson v. Ferguson case (located on mspoole.com). By definition, “alimony” is a court ordered allowance that one spouse pays to the other for maintenance and support while they’re separated, while they’re involved in a lawsuit, or after they’re divorced.  Usually you will see the term “separate maintenance” applied when the payment or allowance from one spouse to another is still married.  Alternative terms are estover and spousal support.  Alimony on a temporary basis, before a court has had a chance to hear an entire case on the merits, can possibly be received in the State of Mississippi upon a showing of need and or rehabilitation or fault of the opposing spouse.

There are several types of alimony: permanent, rehabilitative, and reimbursement.  Permanent alimony refers to alimony which is payable either weekly or monthly, either indefinitely or until a specific date.  This usually may be modified for changed circumstances of either party.  Rehabilitative alimony is alimony necessary to assist a divorced person in regaining a useful and constructive role in society through vocational or other training.  This type of alimony would be particularity common in situations where a spouse lacks the ability to reenter the work force and has little earning capacity in comparison with his or her ex-spouse.

Along a similar note, reimbursement alimony is designed to repay a spouse whom during the marriage made financial contributions that directly enhanced the future earning capacity of the other spouse.  An example of this is a wife working full time supporting herself and her husband while he attends law school, medical school, or some other professional training.  We have seen this at the office several situations wherein a person makes significant contributions towards tuition, room and board, etc. for their spouse while they attend school.

Although alimony is often based upon fault there are several exceptions to this generally accepted principle, including the fact that rehabilitative and reimbursement alimony do not take into consideration the fault of either party. However, in courts of equity in Mississippi it is unlikely that anyone will be awarded alimony if it is deemed that their conduct was a substantial contributing factor to the dissolution of the marriage.  Alimony, often termed spousal support, maintains statutory authority from Mississippi Code Ann., Section 93-5-23, “When a divorce shall be decreed from the bonds of matrimony, the court may, in its discretion, having regard to the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case, as may seem equitable and just, make all orders… touching the maintenance and alimony of the wife or the husband, or any allowance to be made to her or him, and shall, if need be, require bond, sureties or other guarantee.”

Alimony was in the past awarded as a periodic payment without any clear ending date and could be modified based upon a change in circumstances.  Until recently, a wife could be awarded alimony based upon need if she was without fault in the break up of the marriage.  It is now equally available to a husband and wife (see Walker vs. Walker, Mississippi Supreme Court 1980).  It is required in Mississippi that a court have specific findings of fact to support any finding that  an award of alimony is appropriate given the considerations of the state’s jurisprudence.  The Walker case also reemphasized Ferguson and that alimony should only be awarded if, after a division of marital property along with non marital assets, the spouse is left with a deficit.  The court held that it could not uphold an alimony award without a specific finding justifying the need for the same.  See Henderson vs. Henderson (Mississippi Supreme Court 1997).

A court could potentially also award a combination of various types of alimony.  If an award does not fit the traditional characteristics as previously discussed, it is to be construed as periodic.  In other words, if its not clearly labeled, it will deemed periodic alimony.  The Mississippi Supreme Court recently recognized and enforced agreements that do not fit the traditional schemes, indicating that some flexibility may be allowed in determining a proper alimony agreement and or award.  Although it is clear that a person at fault is unlikely to receive and award of alimony, Hammons vs Hammons (Mississippi Supreme Court 1992)  overruled older cases stating that a wife at fault was not entitled to alimony regardless of other circumstances.  The Court held that where the alimony is otherwise appropriate, it should not be denied solely because she is at fault, and that fault is only one factor for the consideration of the court.  In short, consider that alimony can be paid in a variety of circumstances outside of considerations concluding marital assets and property, which are to be divided per the Ferguson factors as outlined on mspoole.com.

Although this body of case law continues to develop it is clear that fault is a very important factor for consideration in whether or not an award of alimony is appropriate, although its not the sole determinative factor.  Factors such as contribution to a spouse, participation in a spouse’s business venture, and other equitable factors will be taken into consideration as well.