Alimony is one of the big issues in divorce, especially when there is a significant disparity in the earning capacity of the spouses. The FreeDictionary website defines it as the “Payment that a family court may order one person in a couple to make to the other person when that couple separates or divorces.”
However, this does not explain why alimony is sometimes necessary. The primary purpose of alimony is to give the spouse with less income to adjust to a new way of life after divorce. Across the states, the rules, regulations and applications of alimony vary widely, and it is further complicated by the specific circumstances of each case.
It is often difficult to quantify in monetary terms the value that each spouse contributed to a marriage, especially if they were married for a long time. For example, one spouse may never have had an opportunity to work outside the home, but provided an exemplary home for the other spouse and several children. After a divorce, such an individual may have difficulty getting work, and will need financial support from the ex-spouse until such time that training has been acquired to qualify that individual for paid work.
Alimony, sometimes called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is not always for life, and unlike child support, is not federally mandated. In Texas, for example, the court may order one spouse to pay the other spouse spousal maintenance under specific circumstances, not more than $2,500 a month of 20% of the paying spouse’s income, whichever is less, and not to exceed 3 years in duration. A Denton divorce lawyer would be the best person to ask about specifics regarding Texas divorce laws that pertain to alimony.
Recent reforms in family law of many states have been targeting alimony, aiming to eliminate it altogether. If you are contemplating divorce and anticipating the need for alimony, consult with a divorce lawyer to see what you are entitled to under current state law.