Should I Ask for Lump Sum Alimony in My Divorce?
Believe it or not, we are in the last quarter of 2021! We’ve all been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic effects it brought with it for over 18 months now. In the family law arena, we’ve seen the current economic climate create an increase in the number of actions seeking modification of existing child support and alimony awards. Some have lost jobs, while others may be facing losing their homes, taking pay cuts or losing out on bonuses and other compensation that was previously used to determine prior financial support awards. This can be an especially big problem in cases where one party has received an alimony award and relies on those monthly payments to meet their basic living expenses.
If your alimony is not designated as “non-modifiable” and the payor retires, gets injured, loses their job or is otherwise unable to make alimony payments, you may very well be facing a reduced alimony payment on an ongoing basis or it may be eliminated altogether. Even if the alimony award is non-modifiable; if the person responsible for making alimony payments loses a job and has no assets or means to pay, your ability to hold someone in contempt for non-payment of alimony is not guaranteed.
Lump-Sum Alimony Payments
Given these potential concerns and the current state of our economy, those seeking alimony may want to consider the idea of “lump sum” upfront payments to avoid the issue of an alimony award being terminated or reduced based upon unfortunate circumstances arising in the future. If there are assets (especially cash assets) available during the initial divorce proceeding, it makes sense to at least consider how much of those assets could be distributed to you in a settlement in exchange for a reduced alimony payment.
As this past year or so has shown us, no one knows what the future holds, and getting your money upfront is a way to reduce potential risk down the road. Lump-sum alimony does come with the responsibility of being smart with the money you receive and making sure the lump sum lasts over the period you require financial assistance. If you are considering a lump sum payout, talk with your attorney, who can recommend an experienced financial planner to assist you with managing your money properly.
While we’ve discussed the advantages to the supported spouse, lump sum alimony also provides advantages to the paying spouse, including:
- First, you will have no continuing obligations to your former spouse, something many going through a divorce would certainly welcome.
- Lump-sum payments should reflect a reduction to account for the time-value of money – meaning that the total paid in alimony should be less given that it is all paid up front, rather than over a long period of time.
- Another, albeit smaller benefit, is that paying a lump sum should alleviate the sometimes-imposed requirement of having to maintain life insurance to safeguard the alimony payments in the event of your death.
Though taking a lump sum payment of alimony may not be the right solution for everyone, the old adage of “a bird in hand being worth two in the bush” can be true in the context of many divorce settlements.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of a separation, divorce, alimony, support, or other financial issues, you need the help of an experienced South Carolina family law attorney to guide you through the difficult process. Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has the experience to help guide you through the most complicated family law issues. You are invited to contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an appointment.
Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 15 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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