When someone is ordered to pay alimony in a divorce, it means they have to pay support to their former spouse. This is similar to having to pay child support for a child, although it’s important to note that the two are completely disconnected and both could be ordered simultaneously or independently.
The general idea behind alimony is that one person may have been expecting to be supported for the rest of their life by their spouse. Traditionally speaking, since men worked more in previous generations and women tended to stay home with the children, this often meant that women who got divorced hadn’t worked in decades. They had no way to support themselves, no income, and they had been focusing on the children because they thought they didn’t need to have a career. Alimony helped balance things out so that they wouldn’t be disproportionately harmed by the divorce.
Today, of course, the gender roles no longer matter. In a modern divorce, both men and women can be ordered to pay or receive alimony, and it can also be ordered in same-sex marriages.
But does that mean that you have to support your former spouse for the rest of their life? Would that really be fair to you, just because they expected it when you got married?
Alimony will typically have an end date
The fact that alimony lasts forever is actually a common myth, it is not true in most cases. When you are ordered to pay alimony, you’ll be told how much you have to pay each month and you’ll be given a set amount of months or years over which you have to pay. Once this term ends, you no longer have to do so. Another option may be to pay a lump sum at the beginning, covering the full value of all of the payments, and then you never have to do it again.
It’s important for both sides to understand this, so that they know what their rights and obligations are. If there’s any confusion during a divorce, take the time to look into your legal options.