Marriage is a formal ritual and social recognition of a couple who are in love and wish to spend their life together. Every married couple faces some ups and downs in life where there are instances when the couple decides to end their differences and reconcile, but there are some conflicts which result in separation and even a divorce. A tough divorce unfortunate is a legal termination of the marital bond shared between a man and a woman. One of the key aspects of every divorce is spousal support or commonly known as ‘alimony.’ The court has the discretion to award alimony to either of the two spouses based on the agreement between the couple or a decision by the judge in a court of law.
Alimony is a written agreement or order that requires one of the spouses to make regular payments to support the other spouse under the rulings set by the court so that there is no dispute among the divorced couple.
There are two types of alimony; first is the ‘Temporary alimony’ which is a regular payment made from one spouse who earns more money to the spouse who has less earning. It is called “temporary” as it is only meant for a limited period of the divorce proceeding, and it usually ends when permanent alimony is put in place by the court. Second is the ‘Permanent alimony,’ also referred to as long-term support. Unlike temporary alimony, which is paid to help the spouse to manage expenses during the divorce, the permanent alimony is settled to place the supported spouse at or near the financial standard of living during the marriage.
If both the spouses cannot agree on permanent alimony during the divorce negotiations, then the matter would likely be decided in court, where the presiding judge would choose both the amount and duration of the long-term support. A typical alimony court order states one person has to pay another person alimony at an agreed amount each month until:
- The time required by the recipient to become self-sufficient
- The financial ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and himself/herself
- Death of either of the two spouses
- The person who receives alimony remarries
Unluckily, no particular rule states how long the spousal support lasts as each state has different rules, and each family has different marital and other issues to resolve. But, some general factors determine the length of spousal support payments, such as
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Commonly the alimony or spousal support is considered as rehabilitative, meaning the support would continue as long as it takes for the recipient spouse to receive some education or job training to become self-sufficient.
- Spousal support for the entire life
While there are low instances of permanent spousal support but there are situations in which a judge may pass an order for support payments for life. This notion, however, is passed if the spouse is elderly or suffering from health problems, and have no chance to earn for themselves. In short-term alimony there usually is an end date but long-term alimonies can be left open-ended, or an end date can be specified by either of the spouses.