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What is alimony and when might it be awarded?

When a couple decides to divorce there are many things that need to be worked through. Depending a variety of circumstances in the marriage, it is possible that alimony could be one of those issues. Also referred to as spousal support, it is awarded in situations where one spouse makes more money than the other.

The length of time that a spouse will make alimony payments to the other spouse varies depending on multiple factors. While it could continue for many, many years, it is commonly rehabilitative in nature. In other words, it is there to provide income to a lower earning spouse while he or she works to become self-supporting.

Whether alimony will be awarded in a divorce is informed by circumstances surrounding the marriage including how long the couple was married and the physical condition, age, emotional state and financial condition of each. In addition, the ability of the spouse ordered to make payments to provide spousal support in addition to supporting himself or herself, and how much time it will take for the individual receiving alimony to get to the point where he or she can support him or herself, is also taken into consideration. Also relevant is the standard of living the couple had while married.

For the best possible outcome in spousal support determinations, it is usually a good idea to work with a divorce lawyer. These individuals can assist not only with making sure the amount established is fair, but may also be of help in situations where a supporting spouse is not making the required payments.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," Accessed Sept. 24, 2014

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