Not every person who goes through a divorce will be able to achieve self-sufficiency once they are on their own. Those who require permanent, ongoing support may be disabled in some way, or may be of an age where they are unable to relearn a trade and find employment. As readers of this blog know, alimony can take on many different forms and can be subject to different terms based on the needs of the parties.
When permanent alimony is awarded, it is because the receiving spouse lacks the ability to provide for their own financial needs. While their alimony award may end if they remarry or if a significant change in circumstances improves their financial prospects, it will generally last until they die. This may be true even if their former spouse dies before them.
It is not unusual for continual payment terms to be worked into permanent alimony awards. A person may receive financial support from the estate of their ex if they were ordered to receive alimony until their own death; in such cases, an alimony award may be paid out as a lump sum or in another format so that the deceased party's estate may be closed out in probate.
The death of an alimony recipient will end the payer's obligation to provide support. The death of the payer may not end the recipient's right to receive financial help from them. These complex alimony and family law matters should not be left to chance. When alimony is under negotiation, a party may wish to protect their interests and work with a divorce attorney to support their financial needs.