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Alimony concerns: The basics of an age-old system

Whether you're looking to gain alimony or may be the one to pay it, it's important that you know the purpose it has. Alimony is designed to help a lower-earning spouse or a spouse who is not working be financially stable following a divorce. It's paid by the higher-earning spouse and is meant to give the other a boost in income until he or she is remarried or can support oneself.

Historically, alimony was paid as a kind of repentance for doing something wrong to end the marriage. In the past, marital misconduct was penalized with alimony as a way of publicly pointing out the spouse's errors. Today, no-fault divorces take away that intention completely.

No one is entitled to alimony in today's world, but the court system does recognize why some individuals may need it. Alimony is normally the last thing that is decided in a divorce, because decisions on child support and asset division impact how much alimony a party may be entitled to.

There is currently no requirement for the length of time alimony must be paid or for the amount an ex-spouse owes annually. It varies by case, which is why those who want it should present a strong case for alimony. Those who don't want to pay it need to present a strong case against the other spouse needing it.

Your attorney can talk to you specifically about your case and what to expect. He or she can give you more information on the potential for receiving or paying alimony in your case. Our website has more on this important topic.

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