Alimony: Payment until Death?

Alimony is a payment, ordered by a divorce court, which must be paid to a former spouse after divorce. This centuries-old practice is somehow rooted from the idea that upon marriage, a woman would remain dependent on her husband until death. Thus, through alimony, financial support is provided for whoever was financially-dependent during marriage, usually the wife. Despite differences in alimony laws between states, means or types of payment are generally the same:

  • Lump sum, a large, fixed payment made in one installment, which ends upon the death of the recipient spouse; this payment may not be terminated (except upon the death of the recipient) or modified even upon remarriage or future changes in circumstances. Lump sum alimony is resorted to only when consented to or in extraordinary cases, such as when the spouse supposed to provide the support is totally unreliable.
  • Permanent alimony, which is a continuous, regular payment without a fixed end date; it goes on so long as the recipient has not died or remarried and as long as the payer is alive. Permanent alimony is actually intended to enable the recipient spouse to maintain his/her standard of living which he/she enjoyed during the marriage.
  • Temporary or rehabilitative alimony is support awarded to whoever between the spouses has a lesser earning; this support, however, ends when the recipient lands a job or becomes self-sufficient.

The gender-equality movement during the 70s paved the way for the acceptance of husbands, rather than wives, as recipients of alimony. Laws were made clearer too that anyone who would fail to pay alimony obligations, allowing these to go into arrears despite the capability to pay, can end up in contempt of court and serve time in jail.

Reforms are being introduced, however, on alimony laws in various states, putting the recipients of the payment on the losing end, especially those who have truly sacrificed their own educational and employment opportunities by giving all of their time and labor to the family, in order to allow their spouses’ careers to peak. After turning away from what could have been a promising future when still younger, many, today, will surely find that re-entering the workforce is much tougher than they think.

The website of Marshall & Taylor Law Firm, P.C., specifically mentions the necessity of alimony for those having a condition which prevents them from earning a substantial pay. Thus, cutting the amount of alimony or shortening the period during which it ought to be paid, will result to much difficulties for those who truly need them.

Filing a claim for alimony and deciding what type of payment to file for may not be too simple, though. Having a legal professional to help you pursue your case would be the wisest decision, if you are thinking of filing for alimony; just make sure you hire the one armed with knowledge and seasoned through experience.

read more