An Introduction to Alimony

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Often times in relationships, one partner will bring in more money or provide more monetary support to the family while another partner will provide equally important support in other ways.  If a couple like this gets divorced, it can be difficult for the ‘lesser-earning’ partner to live safely and comfortably because of one or more varying reasons.  In cases like this, the partner who earned more money may be required to pay alimony.  Here is some more information about alimony and what it does for divorced couples.

What is Alimony?

After the divorce, one spouse may be required to make monthly payments to the other spouse for a determined period of time.  These payments help the lesser-earning or non-earning spouse establish themselves and become financially independent.  They may use the time they are being paid alimony to look for a decent employment opportunity so that when the alimony payments stop, they are able to continue living comfortably and safely. 

There is no typical or set amount for alimony payments.  The amount will be determined based on several factors, including the amount of money both parties earn from their employment, assessed monetary needs of the lesser-earning or non-earning spouse, whether there are children involved in the marriage or not and much more.  The alimony payments are usually a determined percentage of one spouse’s monthly earnings.

When is Alimony Granted?

Although alimony payments are becoming rarer these days due to the majority of married couples having equal or near-to-equal jobs, it does happen.  In a case where a mother has stayed at home to raise the children while the father earned the household money – a judge may order the father to pay alimony.  Similarly, if a man worked to put his wife through school of some sort and now the husband earns much more money than she does – the judge may order the woman to pay alimony to her ex-husband.  The judge will hear out the request for alimony and determine whether it is needed or not.

How Long Do Alimony Payments Last?

Again, there is no time limit for alimony payments.  Typically, they will be reviewed after a certain period of time to establish whether or not the individual receiving them is capable of being self-sufficient.  For this reason, the length of time that alimony payments are enforced differs with each divorce.  One person may be required to pay alimony for a few months while another may be required to pay alimony for several years.  It depends entirely upon the unique situation and the judge who orders the payments.

Alimony is a way of making the divorce  a little more fair.  If one partner has spent all of their time taking care of the household, the children and the necessary jobs which don’t earn an income – they can quickly be left without the means to support themselves after a divorce.  Without alimony payments, the spouse who earned the income over the years will be left with everything while the other spouse will be left with nothing.  In an attempt to ensure that both partners are self-sufficient and able to manage on their own, alimony may be assigned for a period of time.

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