What’s It All About — Alimony — And How Much Will You Spend?

A common definition of alimony is a specific amount of money ordered by a court to be paid by one spouse to the other. The payments can be limited in time or indefinite.  Traditionally, alimony was designed to be paid by the husband to the wife. in history, men were expected to support their families while women were the homemakers. Today, since women make up a significant portion of the work force, the courts have employed a new alimony-award system. Alimony, often referred to as spousal maintenance, can be granted to either spouse and is largely based on economic need. Whether you are seeking or being pursued for alimony, it is important to understand the different types and what they mean to you. Permanent spousal maintenance, is typically granted only if the awarded spouse is unlikely to gain employment in the future. Temporary or term maintenance, is granted on the basis that the receiving spouse simply needs help in maintaining a certain quality of life throughout the divorce process. One example would be a marriage separation where one spouse immediately vacates the household and leaves the other to pay the mortgage and all other household expenses. In this case, a temporary maintenance award may be granted, during the course of a marriage separation, in an effort to allow the receiving spouse to stay solvent while to the actual divorce is being finalized.

Rehabilitative alimony is considered to be a short-term support award and can range anywhere from several months to a few years. This type of support is not permanent, but rather is designed to help the receiving spouse ‘rehabilitate’ themselves into the workforce so that he/she can earn a living through gainful employment. This type of alimony is common if the spouse is temporarily unemployed, but is later expected to return to the workforce.

regardless of the types of alimony and spousal maintenance mentioned here, it is important to realize that no two divorce cases are alike. There are judges who I know on good authority have commented to their staffs or in private meetings with attorneys that they, the judge, feels he is not doing his job in a divorce case unless both parties leave feeling as if they lost.

If you don’t want to feel like a loser, you need to find the best divorce lawyer for your individual needs, take the time to speak with several divorce attorneys in your area who specialize in the dissolution of marriage. Even if you plan to proceed with divorce mediation, having a divorce lawyer may help to protect your rights. When it comes to needing valuable divorce advice on important financial matters, hiring a qualified divorce attorney may be money well-spent.


As always remember that this site, although written by a retiree with substantial experience in the school of hard knocks, it is for personal, lay opinions and informational purposes only. If you have a legal question you should seek help from a legal professional. If you have questions involving current or future values of pensions you need an actuary or competent pension valuation expert. If your questions are tax-related, seek a competent tax advisor. In other cases, I recommend the base chaplain.

You can comment on this post, you can email me at: davestarr (at) gmail (dot) com or you can call me at: 1-719-423-8872

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