Alimony Meaning

Alimony is court-ordered financial support given to a spouse in case of divorce or separation and is given to the spouse who has a lower level of income or no income at all. Both Husband and wife can ask for alimony as per law, in general wife might have given up a career to raise children and can be at a financial disadvantage. As per law, a divorced spouse has the right to live an equal quality of life when he or she was married.


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Period for payment depends on the number of years the marriage lasted and current or future potential income for both spouses. Many factors come in which might be different for every state if the couple gets divorced after ten years, the spouse with lower earning will likely receive alimony.

It is offered for a certain period as per the decision of the court, or if a former spouse gets remarried, children do not require to live in parents’ home, retirement, death, or if courts agree that the recipient is not making efforts to be self-sufficient.

Factors, Calculation, and Eligibility

  • Length of your marriage as per state of the law: In general marriage lasted for a more extended period and is considered for alimony payments to the spouse. Short-term marriages may not lead to support payments.
  • For some states, the marriage begins when the certificate is filed in state and ends when the divorce case is filed, while in other lengths of the marriage is considered as the date of physical separation, which could be before or after divorce is filed in court.
  • Live in a period before marriage is also considered while calculating the payment in some states.
  • In general, court-ordered alimony mostly considered when the length of marriage exceeds ten years. In some states, the court may not set an end date if the marriage lasted more than ten years.
    • Dates of individual and spouse live together.
    • Date of marriage.
    • Date of divorce.
    • Date of the couple stopped living together.
  • Income levels for both spouses are considered. Spouses with less earning levels will receive alimony payments. Future earning potentials of a spouse are also considered if the spouse gets a high earning job after divorce, get remarried, etc.
  • Age and health: Age comes into picture when the spouse has not worked for a period of marriage. Health issues and medical expenses are also some of the critical factors.
    • This tends to increase with the age of spouse, as the older individual will have fewer opportunities to develop new skills and get a new job.
    • Ill health or disability of spouse can lead to permanent alimony.
    • Retirement age is also considered for the spouse.
  • Standard of living: Spouse has the right to live an equal standard of living after marriage. That is why the standard of living is always considered. Cost of house, food, clothing, other expense, child care is considered in calculations.
  • Contributions towards marriage: It is often considered whether the spouse has made significant contributions in marriage. Example, spouse stayed home and took care of children sacrificing career will receive higher alimony.
  • Net-worth of each spouse: After the divorce is finalised, the court will consider the financial situation of both spouses. If the court finds out that each spouse is self-sufficient, then alimony is less likely to be considered.
  • Reason for divorce/separation:
    • Many times reason for divorce or separation is considered. If marital misconduct, e.g. adultery comes in to picture then, the court might deny it.
    • In the same manner, in case of emotional or physical violence from a spouse can lead to higher alimony payments.


If couples are divorced, Husband earns $6000 per month, while the wife has no income and she stays home and takes care of children and house. As per state law, she is allowed $2000 for child support. If she convinces the court that her total needs as per lifestyle and child care are $3000, then, the court can increase alimony payment.


  • Maintain the standard of living after divorce: As per law, the spouse has the right to maintain the same standard of living after separation or divorce. If in case of a lower-income level for the spouse, he/she has the right to ask for alimony due to sudden change in income level for maintaining the same standard of living.
  • Age and health: In case of older age or health issues spouse gets alimony because of fewer available opportunity to a fresh start with a new career, and in case of health or disability incapable of generating income.
  • Childcare and expenses: In case, children are involved. Expenses to maintain lifestyle and education for children are an essential factor for the spouse for which, he/she gets alimony.


  • Financial Support: Spouse with lower income or no income gets financial support from ex-spouse as per law, which helps him/her to manage regular daily expenses even after divorce.
  • Maintaining Lifestyle: In many cases, there is a sudden change in lifestyle for a spouse due to divorce. It helps the spouse to maintain an equal lifestyle even after marriage.
  • Age and Health: In case of the old age of spouse or any health issue, alimony payment turns out to be necessary, as ex-spouse is unable to get a new job and have to bear medical expenses.


  • State Laws Factors for Alimony: In many cases, it is considered for marriage lasted longer periods, and marriages with the shorter-period are denied for payments.
  • Financial Burden: For the spouse with higher-earning, it becomes a legal obligation to pay spouse every month even after separation or divorce.


  • Alimony helps ex-spouse with lower income to maintain financial stability in life, manage a similar lifestyle even after divorce. In many marriages, where ex-spouse sacrificed a career to take care of the house or children, it becomes impossible to start a new career after a long period, and that results in financial instability.
  • Various factors come into consideration while calculating alimony like the financial condition of both spouses, age, health, lifestyle, children, etc. This is decided for a specific period by the court, which helps ex-spouse to maintain her lifestyle even after divorce, until he/she becomes self-sufficient, remarries, etc.

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