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What Is Alimony?

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What Is Alimony?

Alimony is defined as payments that are paid in regular, cyclical installments from one ex-spouse to another. Such payments are generally associated with divorce or legal separation. As part of the divorce proceeding, the judge may determine that one party should pay the other monthly support.

These payment amounts help to cover basic necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter. They may help the recipient become financially stable after the divorce or separation. This is especially common in cases where one party was very dependent on the other for living expenses.

What Is the Purpose of Alimony?

Alimony or spousal support has been in the divorce system for hundreds of years. The main purpose behind having alimony is to continue providing for the low-income or no-income spouse after a divorce and prevent a unfair economic effect just because of a divorce. Many spouses do not continue their career or go after a career in order to support their family or children. This spouse would then have no income or a way to provide for himself or herself if they get a divorce since they have no job skills or experience.

Another reason for having alimony is to help a spouse continue the standard of living that they had during the time of marriage even after a divorce until they either get a self-supporting income or remarry.

Are There Different Types of Alimony?

Most alimony payments are issued on a regular monthly basis. There may be different types of alimony payments. These include:

  • Permanent Alimony: This is spousal support that last for an indefinite amount of time.
  • Temporary Alimony: Spousal support that last for a specific amount of time. The time for terminating alimony may be set by the judge.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: This is alimony whose purpose is to help the other party recover financially. This type of alimony may terminate when the recipient has reached a certain level of financial stability.

Thus, alimony orders are generally issued according to the projected needs of the parties. Alimony orders can often be modified or terminated according to the circumstances.

How Is Alimony Calculated?

Alimony is different than child support. Courts usually make the decision on whether alimony should be paid or not, how much the payments should be, and when the payments should end.

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce act has considered how alimony is calculated according to various factors, including:

  • The length of time that the marriage lasted
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marital assets
  • The financial background and earning capacity of each spouse at the time of divorce
  • Child custody issues
  • Whether either spouse has remarried or has cohabited with a new partner

Generally speaking, remarriage or cohabitation with a new partner will disqualify the recipient from further spousal support. Changes in life circumstances (such as loss of job or a new residence) may also alter the amount of alimony.

How Long Is Alimony Paid?

Alimony or spousal support is paid until the other spouse has a way to support himself or herself. If the agreement made does not have a termination date, the payments must continue to be paid until the court decides that no payments are required. Usually spousal support comes to an end when the other spouse has developed enough skills to support himself or herself or remarries. Alimony payments can always be modified depending on the paying spouses ability to make the payments.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Alimony Laws?

Every state has different alimony laws. You may wish to hire a family lawyer if you need help filing or requesting for alimony. Your attorney can explain how the laws in your state may apply to your case. Also, your lawyer can help you file a request for alimony, termination of alimony, or other types of requests. A qualified attorney in your area can provide you with the legal assistance that is needed to finalize your case.

Photo of page author Kourosh Akhbari

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 05-24-2017 04:25 PM PDT

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