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What Is Alimony?

When a couple undergoes a divorce or separation, one party may be legally obligated to provide regular payments to the other party in order to support the former. This type of payment is referred to as alimony and it is only available to couples that were legally married. Alimony is also known as maintenance or spousal support.

When entering a legal marriage, spouses usually make a vow to emotionally and financially support one another “as long as they both shall live”. This vow is continually honored In most traditional marriages, the couple consists of a breadwinner and a domestic with the former earning the money through work and the latter working at home in order to maintain a stable family life. When this kind of couple of enters into divorce or separation proceedings, the domestic spouse is given some form of financial support as a reward for the contributions he or she made during the marriage as well as a confirmation of the vows and promises made during the legal marriage.

Different kinds of alimony exist based on how the payment is to be made. Lump sum alimony is when a court calculates the total amount a spouse is to receive and is only to be paid one by the other spouse. Temporary or rehabilitative alimony is done in order to provide temporary financial security since the spouse receiving alimony is expected to regain financial independence. A permanent alimony exists when the court orders payments to be made on an indefinite time period. Usually, the spouse paying alimony will petition the court at a later date to end this type of alimony.

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