Alimony Awards in Mississippi
After the court identifies and distributes marital assets, it will determine the need for alimony. In the event that both parties have sufficient earning capacity or the property division is sufficient to keep the parties from becoming destitute, the alimony award is less likely. In Mississippi, disparity in the parties income is the single most common reason for an award of alimony. And, while there are no preset statutory guidelines to help lawyers and judges determine the amount of any alimony award, the court will utilized the factors in Armstrong v. Armstrong, 618 So.2d 1278 (Miss. 1993), to determine the need and amount of any alimony award in Mississippi.
There are several basic types of alimony in Mississippi, including: (1) temporary alimony; (2) permanent alimony; (3) lump sum alimony; (4) rehabilitative alimony; and, (5) reimbursement alimony. There are also hybrid forms of alimony routinely created by attorneys that utilize unique characteristics from each type of alimony referenced above and combine them to fit the unique needs of the parties. However, the basic characteristics are the amount of the award, duration, whether the alimony survives death and/or remarriage of the parties, the tax consequences of the award, and the ability of the court to modify the award of the alimony in the future.
The first type of alimony is temporary alimony. In Mississippi, temporary alimony or alimony “pendent lite” may be awarded while divorce or separate maintenance proceedings are pending before a court. Temporary alimony may be ordered where the parties are married and living separate, one party has filed suit against the other for separate maintenance or divorce, and the court has jurisdiction over the case. Upon entry of the final judgment in the divorce matter, the party's obligation to pay temporary alimony ends, but the judgment will not end the obligation to pay any temporary alimony arrearages that exist.
Another type of alimony is permanent alimony. Permanent alimony is paid from one spouse to the other and continues until the death of one or both parties or the remarriage of the recipient. It is deductible from the income of the payor and will be included as income to the payee. The factors considered by the court for a permanent alimony award are the Armstrong factors referenced above, and these factors include:
- the parties' income and expenses;
- the parties' health and earning capacity;
- the needs of each party;
- the obligations and assets of each party;
- the length of the marriage;
- the presence or absence of minor children in the home, which may require child care;
- the parties' age;
- the parties' standard of living during the marriage and at the time support is determined;
- tax consequences of the support order;
- fault and/or misconduct;
- dissipation of assets by either party;
- other factors deemed to be "just and equitable".