Alimony or spousal support is a payment made to a former spouse to assist him or her with regular living expenses. The judge may require you to pay alimony as part of your divorce agreement.

If you pay alimony, there are two types the court may order. According to The Mississippi Bar, spousal support may be by periodic payment or lump sum.

Periodic payment

Periodic payment alimony is probably what you are more familiar with as it involves making a payment on a regular basis, typically monthly. You pay over time. You or your spouse may request a modification to the order at any time when there is a change in circumstances.

For example, if you lose your job, then you may ask for a modification since your finances are different from what they were when the judge originally made the order.

This type of alimony ends upon your death or the death of your spouse. It may also end if your spouse remarries or starts living with a romantic partner.

Lump sum

Lump sum alimony works differently because it is a fixed amount the court awards. You cannot request a modification. You may pay it all at once or over time in the same manner you would pay periodic payments.

Also, the lump sum award is due regardless of circumstances, including your death or if your spouse remarries.

Comparison

When comparing the two, lump sum has an advantage that you know the total amount you will pay and you will only have to pay that amount. Periodic payments can change and you only get to stop paying when the court says you can.

However, lump sum payments also mean there is no relief. You have to pay what the court orders in full. With periodic payments, it is possible that you will not have to pay long, especially if your spouse enters a new, serious relationship.