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Are Alimony Payments Permanent?

Alimony is one of the most contentious issues in any divorce case for many reasons. For example, a paying spouse may believe that they have been ordered to pay too much, while the receiving spouse may believe that they are not being paid enough. Another point of contention is the length of an alimony award and whether it is permanent.

Oklahoma divides the types of alimony which one may receive into three types, which are:

  • Temporary alimony — Typically awarded early in a divorce case and is ended when the case is finalized. This type of alimony is largely meant for situations when a spouse will need immediate assistance but is expected to get on their feet in short order.
  • Short-term alimony — Meant to assist a spouse for a small amount of time while they are retraining or otherwise preparing to re-enter the workforce.
  • Permanent alimony — Awarded to spouses who are considered unable to fully support themselves. Such alimony may be awarded to a spouse at the end of a very long-term marriage or a spouse who is disabled. However, permanent alimony doesn’t necessarily last for life. Its duration varies based on a number of factors.

Oklahoma’s alimony laws are clear that support is generally modifiable and that it will automatically terminate upon certain events.

The court will consider several factors when determining the length of an alimony award. One of the main factors is the length of the marriage. Some judges, as a general rule of thumb, grant one year of alimony for every three years of marriage. For example, after a 42-year marriage, a spouse might be awarded 14 years of alimony. However, the spouses’ ages and health conditions are also considered. Also, if a spouse is a senior or is disabled, then the court may order alimony for a longer period of time. It is important to remember that no two situations are the same, and the length of an alimony payment will depend on the specifics of the situation.

If the spouse receiving alimony payments subsequently remarries, then the alimony award may be terminated automatically. Permanent awards may also be reduced, if not completely eliminated, based on material changes in circumstances. A receiving spouse cohabitating with a new significant other, whom they have not married, is considered a “changed circumstance” and is grounds to ask for a modification. Other reasons to ask for a modification can include the receiving spouse obtaining some type of financial windfall or if they have unexpectedly returned to work. If alimony was dictated by a prenuptial agreement, however, it cannot be modified by the court.

The Lindsey Law Firm, P.C., is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our firm represents those who are involved in family law matters involving alimony awards. Contact us online or call us at 918-587-0097 to schedule an initial consultation.

Office Location
  • Tulsa Office
    1612 S Denver Ave.
    Tulsa, Oklahoma 74119
    Phone: 918-587-0097
    Fax: 918-587-3763
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