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All About Alimony

The Ins and Outs of Alimony

Alimony is a form of monetary support during and after a divorce. Sometimes referred to as maintenance or spousal support, alimony may be temporary or permanent. The concept of alimony is based upon a man’s obligation to financially support his wife forever, even after a separation or divorce. Although the actual marriage is over, the man’s duty to provide for the woman he married continues.

Not so long ago, the only way the court would allow people a divorce was if one person proved marital misconduct of the other. Consequently, whoever caused the marital misconduct had to pay the victimized spouse alimony. In most cases, it was assumed that the husband was always at fault for misbehavior; thus ordered to pay alimony to his now ex-wife continuously. On the other hand, if the husband proved the wife guilty of misbehavior, then she did not have to pay alimony, but did forfeit her right to any type of spousal support.

Today, in all states except New York, the court grants no-fault divorces; which means neither the husband nor wife must prove marital misconduct. However, in most states “unspoken” or innuendo of spousal misbehavior plays a role in alimony rulings. Still, men are typically ordered to pay alimony to the woman for a specified period of time. In fact, only 3.6% of men receive alimony from their ex-wives. Statistically, men do earn more money than women do; therefore, the case for alimony is fairly strong in the woman’s favor.

Alimony is completely separate from child support and varies from state to state. Some states, such as Mississippi and Texas only award alimony in marriages that lasted ten years or longer. In others, the duration of alimony payments is limited to three years. In still other states, a civil union or common law marriage that dissolves may warrant alimony payments. Usually the presiding judge in family court determines the amount of monthly support; however, it is typically less than two thousand five hundred dollars or forty percent of the person’s income.

There are three classifications of alimony. They are temporary, rehabilitative, and permanent. Judges order temporary alimony when the spouses are no longer living together during divorce proceedings. Rehabilitative alimony is temporary and designed to allow the non-working or underemployed spouse time to find full-time employment. Permanent support is paid forever, unless the spouse remarries.

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