Divorce proceedings include the settlement of property rights and monetary issues. Alimony is an allowance by law to allow one spouse to receive financial support from the other spouse. Mississippi law defines two types of alimony—lump sum alimony and periodic payment alimony. Alimony continues to evolve as society changes. It is more common today for a household to be a two-income family, rather than relying solely on one spouse’s income for the family; thus, this area of the law continues to be in flux.
Lump sum alimony is a fixed dollar amount which must be paid by one spouse to the other in a single payment or over a period of time. Once lump sum alimony is awarded by the court it cannot be modified. Lump sum alimony is not affected by the death or remarriage of the receiving spouse.
The factors that the trial court must consider per Cheatham (a case) in making an award of lump sum alimony are:
Periodic alimony paid by one spouse to the other on a periodic basis. Periodic alimony may be modified. Period alimony ceases upon the death, remarriage, or cohabitation of the receiving spouse. In determining whether to make an award of periodic alimony, the following Armstrong (named after the case setting out the factors) factors must be considered by the court (note: wife and husband shall be used interchangeably):
In addition to the Armstrong factors, the Davis case added addition factors that the court should review as to periodic alimony as follows: (1) The court should review the reasonable needs of the child, and how the child’s needs impact the alimony recipient’s living expenses; (2) the court should review the income tax obligations of the respective parties, including deductibility of alimony and availability of tax refunds, deductions, exemptions, and other factors increasing or decreasing tax obligations; and (3) the court should review other factors, such as use of the prior marital home, home furnishings, and vehicle, relating to property division between the parties as part of the spousal support package in determining the award of alimony.
Whether you are looking to receive support or have questions on your requirement to pay, alimony is a very fact specific area of the law. The court will review a number of factors when determining the type and amount of alimony. It is important to hire a communicative attorney to present the relevant factors to the court in support of or opposition to an award of alimony.
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