The Basics of Spousal Support or Alimony

It is a sad day when a marriage ends. Yet, there may be some good despite all the hurt because it is possible for the courts to award spousal support or alimony to the former wife or husband. It may be granted based on the court’s decision or the agreement between the former couple.

How Alimony is Important

Spousal support aims to limit the unfair negative economic effects of the divorce process. It provides a regular income to a spouse who earns a lower wage or a spouse who doesn’t earn at all. This is justified by the other spouse’s decision to refrain from pursuing a career to care for the family. The said spouse would then need time to develop the necessary job skills to support herself or himself. Another reason for support is to help the economically challenged spouse to continue the lifestyle during the marriage.

Determining the Amount

Various courts have different discrete factors in determining whether to award spousal support or not. If it is to be granted, the courts also decide how long the other spouse will give the support and how much it would be. The UMDA (Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act advises the courts to consider these factors in deciding on alimony cases:

• The payer spouse’s ability to pay alimony and still support herself or himself
• The marriage period
• The emotional state, age, financial condition, and physical condition of the former spouses
• The standard of living during the marriage
• The period for the recipient spouse to become educated and trained for self-sufficiency

Period of Paying Alimony

The courts consider alimony as rehabilitative they order it as long as the recipient spouse still needs training for self-sufficiency. If there is no alimony termination date indicated in the divorce decree, the support payments should continue until the courts order it to end.
Most alimony awards terminate the moment the recipient spouse remarries. It doesn’t necessarily end when the payer spouse dies. The courts may order support payments from the payer spouse’s life insurance or estate proceeds.

Changing Trends

Decades ago, the courts awarded spousal support to former wives because the husbands used to be the sole breadwinners of families. In modern family culture, most couples establish two-wage earning families, in which men are more suitable primary parents and women are less dependent on their husbands. The number of cases in which wives pay alimony to their husbands is increasing dramatically.

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