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Alimony: A Court-Mandated Monetary Payment

According to the Marshall & Taylor PLLC, law firm, after a married couple divorces or separates, it is not uncommon for one partner to experience a substantial decline in their standard of living. Issues such as staying at home to take care of children or sacrificing professional opportunities for another spouse’s career can place a person at a significant disadvantage following a divorce. For this reason, many divorce settlements include spousal support in the form of alimony payments.

Alimony or spousal support is one spouse’s lawful obligation to give monetary support to his or her former partner after separation or divorce. Formerly, spousal support consisted in the husband paying his former spouse. Life’s circumstances, however, have greatly changed. Today, more men than women are without work, making them contribute more time to child-care and in the performance of household chores, while more and more workplaces are being populated by single women and mothers. Thus, modern day practice has given way to gender parity, so that the support is now supposed to be provided by whoever has financial strength and stability.

Alimony is a court-mandated monetary payment that one spouse should make to his/her former partner; it is also known under the names spousal support or spousal maintenance. When making decisions on the issue of alimony, courts usually consider the following factors:

  • earning capability of both spouses;
  • age and health of the spouses;
  • earned and potential income, and assets of both spouses; and,
  • length of marriage.

There are different types of alimony or forms of payment recognized in the United States:

  • Temporary alimony or alimony pendente lite: this type of alimony is awarded to one spouses even while the divorce case is still pending;
  • Rehabilitative: this type of alimony serves as a re-education or re-training support that will help one spouse find a good-paying job and, so, become self-sufficient;
  • Permanent: this court-ordered regular payment (usually monthly) is to enable the recipient spouse to continue to enjoy the standard of living that he/she enjoyed before the divorce. This ends, however, when the recipient spouse remarries or dies, or if the court modifies its order.
  • Lump sum: if the spouse supposed to provide spousal support has been deemed as totally irresponsible in ensuring the monthly payment to his/her former partner, then the court may order this single lump sum alimony payment instead.

Failure to pay spousal support can merit the contempt of court. The punishment accompanying this failure can include fines, imprisonment, wage garnishment, liens on property and seizure of earnings, such as earnings from tax refund.

As explained in the website of the law firm Marshall & Taylor PLLC, “When it comes to alimony, there are a number of different legal issues that often need to be addressed. For these and other concerns relating to alimony arrangements, it is often best to have an experienced legal representative on your side, ensuring your interests and needs are represented and heard.

 

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