Alimony can be an important payment for some people. For example, women who stayed home to raise their children may have taken less time on their careers and need alimony to help support them as they go back to school or focus on moving forward and upward at work.

Alimony, which is also known as spousal support, provides a base payment monthly or on another schedule that you decide with your ex-spouse. Many people choose lump-sum alimony, which is a one-off payment because they are able to avoid the continued connection that monthly or bi-weekly alimony would require.

Does lump-sum alimony mean that you’ll receive less than if you received monthly or bi-weekly payments?

No. Interestingly, the court asks that the payor makes a payment for the full amount to pay a lump sum, and no discount is given. As a person who is receiving alimony, you’re entitled to the whole amount awarded to you or agreed upon between you and your spouse.

How can you know how much to expect?

There is no way to be certain unless you and your spouse agree to a certain amount of alimony. If you both agree on $400 a month for five years, for example, you could take that or $24,000 up front in a lump sum, if offered. If you both go to court, the judge will use state guidelines to determine a fair amount of spousal support, but their decision can be influenced by other factors, too.

Our website has more on alimony and what you should expect if you want to receive it.