Understanding the Different Types of Alimony

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Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is a form of payment made to the other person either during (temporary support) a divorce or for a period of time after a divorce. Under family law in Tigard, and elsewhere in Oregon there are three types of support arrangements: transitional spousal support, compensatory spousal support, and spousal maintenance.


First, spousal support must be requested when you file for divorce. It is not awarded automatically. An alimony lawyer is not required to file for support.  Generally family law attorneys are skilled in requesting spousal support or alimony on your behalf as part of the overall divorce process.  , In general, the purpose of alimony is to provide financial aid to a spouse who may be unable to support themselves outside of marriage. During a marriage, it’s not uncommon for one of the spouses to stay at home to raise children while the other spouse advances in their career. Should a divorce happen, this can leave the stay at home spouse in a difficult position.

Because of this, there are a few options available to receive support from your spouse during and after your divorce.

The Three Types of Alimony

  1. Transitional Spousal Support
    • This form of support is designed to aid a spouse in obtaining the necessary education or to reenter the workforce or support for a period of time that would allow that spouse to work themselves into a self-sustaining position. It is usually a shorter-term financial aid and is more common in couples who were not married for a long period.  Shorter-term however, could be just a few months in length or it could be several years.  The reasonableness of the terms of support can be based on a number of factors, but often it is fact dependent upon what the person’s game plan is for becoming self-sufficient and how long it is reasonably likely to take to get there.
  2. Compensatory Spousal Support
    • Compensation in this form is more uncommon when compared to the other two types. This type of support is reserved for people who’ve made significant contributions to their partner’s education or career advancement. This could mean financial help or simply giving up their own career to help their spouse instead.
  3. Spousal Maintenance
    • This is the most traditional form of support and is normally what one refers to when discussing alimony. Spousal maintenance awards a certain amount of support that could either be for a set period or for an indefinite period of time. This form of support is common in long-term marriages or if the other spouse is not able to care for themselves due to health issues.Alimony in these forms can be paid monthly or in one lump sum. It is much more common to have the ongoing support to be paid on a monthly basis.

Factors Used to Determine Spousal Support

First, it’s important to understand that spousal support is separate from child support. Both types of support can be active at the same time. The decision to split retirement accounts and other assets is also typically not a factor used in determining if you’re eligible for alimony.  However, if you are of retirement age and have access to retirement funds, this may not be the case.

The court will look at numerous factors including:

  • How long you were married.
  • The income discrepancy between you and your spouse.
  • The financial situation and needs of both parties.
  • If there are children involved and who has custody.
  • Possibly how much you contributed to the marriage.
  • Your health or the health of your spouse.
  • Any any other factors that may be relevant.

These are only a few things the court will consider relevant. Every situation is unique which is why an online alimony calculator won’t provide an accurate estimate and should be avoided. If you’re looking to request alimony in your divorce or want to protect yourself from unfair alimony demands, consider talking with a skilled family law attorney, sometimes called a spousal support attorney for assistance with your matter

Hobson / Oram Law

Hobson Oram Law