Alimony: Its Past and Present and How The Court Awards It and How Much

A court can order alimony for a spouse if they have been deemed dependent on their spouse for financial support. The amount of alimony, also known as support maintenance or support, often varies by state. The goal of alimony is to provide the dependent spouse financial compensation.

The goal may seem simple enough; however, it’s not as simple as one may think. There are several mitigating factors that are involved with alimony.  Alimony cases tend to vary based on the state and geographical location.

How Did Alimony Come About?

Alimony, later for “to nourish” was originally given to women, as they were typically dependent on their husbands to pay their way. Husbands generally went out and worked while the wives would stay home, cooking, cleaning and taking care for the children.  Should her husband divorce her, a woman would be unable to support herself or her children very easily due to not having any previous work experience.

Alimony was created to bridge the gap and continue this “for a short period of time” until she was able to find work or remarried. It was also possible that alimony would be granted for the rest of her life. Alimony was protection for her especially if the divorce is the result of a husband’s misconduct. A divorce would not release him of his obligation to take care of his “wife”.

How The Court Determines If Alimony Is Granted

Alimony today is still widely used. However, the influences that surround its implementation have changed. It’s not just a woman that can get it; a man who is dependent on his wife to care for him may also be granted alimony.  On top of that, some men have sought not to pay for alimony, for one reason or another.  The reason is that the job force has certainly accommodated women in giving them a paycheck – sometimes better than their husbands.

It’s not unheard of for a woman to support her husband after the divorce if her paycheck was better than his at the time of the divorce and she can support herself completely. When both parties are eligible for support, the court reviews the case to determine if alimony will be awarded or not.

The court will look at the parties’ income abilities, present income, job market competitiveness, ages, skills, marriage length and other important information. They may decide to award the income based on contingency basis or for long-term. The court may award the alimony to be paid out each month or in a lump sum.

There are some cases where the couple can decide on alimony terms and the court can review the terms to clarify if the terms are fair.  Many times, it’s the court who decides who the dependent party is and will make the final determination.