TRIAL BY CHECKLIST: PERIODIC AND REHABILITATIVE ALIMONY
August 27, 2010 § 19 Comments
A practice tip about trial factors is here.
Armstrong vs. Armstrong, 618 So.2d 1278, 1280 (Miss. 1993), sets out the factors that the trial court must consider and address in making a determination about whether to award periodic and/or rehabilitative alimony. They are:
- The income and expenses of the parties.
- The health and earning capacities of the parties.
- 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 that one or both parties either pay, or personally provide, child care.
- The age of the parties.
- The standard of living of the parties, both during the marriage and at the time of the support determination.
- The tax consequences of the spousal support order.
- Fault or misconduct.
- Wasteful dissipation of assets by either party.
- Any other factor deemed by the Court to be “just and equitable” in connection with the setting of spousal support.
Before the court can reach the issue of alimony, the court must first adjudicate equitable distribution and determine whether any need for alimony can be alleviated by a greater share of equitable distribution. This means that the factors for equitable distribution (Ferguson factors) must be presented in alimony cases. If, after equitable distribution, the court finds that the needs of both parties are met and there is no disparity, the court does not consider alimony.
Professor Deborah Bell in her MISSISSIPPI FAMILY LAW treatise and her annual seminars has done some important research into how length of marriage and relative income affect awards of periodic, rehabilitative and lump-sum alimony. You should become very familiar with her work if you are going to take on an alimony case.
Caveat: This is an area of the law in flux, and the cases are significantly fact-driven. You should do some research for authority supporting your position pro or con before going to trial. There is plenty of case law on both sides of the issue.