Is Alimony Still a Reasonable Concept?

Guest post from US family law bloggers.

Despite the salary inequalities that still persist between men and women, many modern-day wives are working alongside their husbands. Some women even earn more. You might wonder why we still have alimony, where the ex-husband pays a monthly sum to the ex-wife. Some people argue that alimony should be a thing of the past, while others feel that it’s still an valid law.

An important point that can’t be overlooked when discussing the relevancy of alimony in today’s culture is that it is not necessarily the responsibility of the husband. Alimony is a court-ordered duty of the top earner in the marriage. The difference in the earnings of the two spouses has to be significant for alimony to be decreed. However, both historically and traditionally, the male has been the one to pay the alimony bills. Judges have consistently awarded alimony to the female, even in cases where both ex-spouses had jobs during the marriage.

Today, many family court justices are working on adapting the law so that alimony isn’t set up as an unfair burden on men, but as a fair distribution of martial property.

How did alimony come to be? In the past, women were not allowed to own property. Thus, in a marriage, all the land and property were owned solely by the husband and never the wife. And in cases of divorce, the ex-husband would keep everything and the ex-wife would be left with nothing. Alimony was established as a way for the ex-wife to be able to survive after divorce.

Obviously, the circumstances have changed today. Martial property is usually divided equally between two parties in a divorce and if there are children, the home is often given to the ex-wife on the grounds that it would be less traumatic for the kids. The more you look at it, the more it seems like alimony should become obsolete.

On the other hand, you could argue that women are still at a disadvantage after a divorce. Even today, many wives choose to leave the workforce in order to stay home and raise children. Some of them move across the country when their husband gets a new job and leave their career behind. After years and years of contributing to the marriage through raising kids, taking care of the home, and managing the finances, should these women be left with no career prospects and no monthly income when divorce happens? Alimony helps level the playing field and allows these women to continue living on as they have before.

What about husbands who took on the stay-at-home role? They probably would benefit from alimony payments from their ex-wives as much as a woman would.

An important issue to consider is whether the ex-husband should be legally required to pay alimony for the rest of his life. Should the sentence of alimony be reduced to a certain amount of years instead, with the purpose of providing support to the women until she is able to enter the workforce and earn enough money to maintain her lifestyle?

Alimony will become a much more acceptable and fair concept if it truly becomes an equal opportunity responsibility.

About the author

This piece was written by Trevor Patterson, a freelance writer and blogger based in the greater metro area of Las Vegas, Nevada. Patterson focuses on law, politics, economics and real estate. Legal needs come in various forms; for those with needs in the area of Pedestrian Accidents be sure to consult a professional with sufficient expertise in this subfield.

Guidelines for Being Awarded Alimony

divorceWhen two people decide that it is time for them to end their marriage and get a divorce, the idea of alimony payments is always brought up. Alimony is a monthly financial payment from one spouse to support the other after a marriage ends. Alimony payments were historically made from the husband to the wife, the idea being that the husband was the one who worked and the wife would be the one to stay home and raise children. Since the ’70s there has been a movement in the other direction towards equality, and today where many wives support stay-at-home husbands, alimony is paid both ways.  This is determined by assessing the financial situation of each person involved and after taking into account certain factors concerning the marriage. Here are the guidelines that are followed to determine who is awarded alimony after a divorce.

Determining Who Has the Ability to Earn an Income

The main factor that is taken into consideration when it is determined which person will pay alimony is the ability to earn an income. Alimony used to be easier to determine when there was only one earner in a marriage, but in today’s world it’s far more difficult. In many cases, both members of the marriage have good careers and earn their own income, but they still wish to be awarded alimony. It can be difficult to discern which party needs the extra income. When there is only one person with an ability to earn a living because the other spouse gave up a career to raise children, then that person would be the one who would be required to pay alimony. The court also takes each person’s ability to earn a future income into consideration, so if a stay-at-home wife left a successful career, that would also count.

Determining Who Has the Ability to Pay Alimony

In some cases, neither spouse earns an income, but instead live off of a passive income. Lotto winnings, a trust fund, income from investments, or savings are all examples of passive income. In these cases, the person who the money belongs to is the one who has the ability to pay alimony, even though they are not actively earning an income.

Standard of Living and Length of the Marriage

One of the big factors of a divorce is making sure each person has the ability to maintain the same standard of living that they had during the marriage. A high standard of life would need to be maintained for each person, which would result in higher alimony payments.

The amount of time the marriage lasted is also a major factor. If a week-long marriage ends in divorce, then there would not be a significant amount of alimony paid out. However, if a marriage lasted over 10 years the amount of alimony would be significant.

It can be difficult to see your marriage come to an end, but even worse is being in a situation where you give up your career and dedicate your life to one person only to end up divorced with no form of income. Alimony is designed to protect people from situations like that, and the first step to getting alimony is to know the guidelines that are followed when determining who is awarded alimony.

If you are going through a divorce and you think you will have to pay alimony or are hoping to receive alimony payments, contact a lawyer who can advocate for you.  Charles R. Ullman & Associates is a spousal support/alimony law firm located in North Carolina.  For more information about spousal support, visit the website at www.DivorceLawCary.com.