Often, divorce does not sever the responsibility of one spouse over the other for there is what is termed as alimony or spousal support, wherein one spouse will need to provide financial support to the other to ascertain that the dependent spouse will not live a financially-burdensome life. This is the primary purpose of alimony which state courts always see to. According to some Raleigh divorce lawyers, courts observe the policy of making sure that the spouses and the children are able to continue to enjoy the standard of living that they enjoyed before the divorce. Thus, if one spouse gave up all chances for professional and economic growth for the sake of his/her partner and their family, then the more financially able spouse will be required by the court to provide him/her with financial support upon divorce.
Women, traditionally, were the recipients of alimony since it was them who were often required (by societal standards) to cease work and care of the home after marriage. Providing for her and for the rest of the family was, of course, the duty of the father of the house.
Life’s circumstances, however, have greatly changed. Today, more men than women are without work, making them contribute more time to child-care and in the performance of house chores, while more and more workplaces are being populated by single women and mothers.
The earning capacity of both men and women has changed too with women now able to earn even much more than their partner in life. Due to these significant changes in economic situation and opportunities, the recipient of alimony can now also be a former husband.
Alimony is a court-mandated monetary payment that one spouse should make to his/her former partner; it is also known under the names spousal support or spousal maintenance. When making decisions on the issue of alimony, courts usually consider the following factors:
- Earning capability of both spouses
- Age and health of the spouses
- Earned and potential income, and assets of both spouses
- Duration of the marriage
There are different types of alimony or forms of payment recognized in the United States:
- Temporary Alimony: Also known as alimony pendente lite, this type of alimony is awarded to one spouses if, even while the divorce case is still pending, the spouses are already living separately from one another
- Rehabilitative: this type of alimony serves as a re-education or re-training support that will help one spouse find a good-paying job and, so, become self-sufficient
- Permanent: this court-ordered regular payment (usually monthly) is to enable the recipient spouse to continue to enjoy the standard of living that he/she enjoyed before the divorce. This end, however, when the recipient spouse remarries or dies, or if the court modifies its order
- Lump Sum: if the spouse supposed to provide spousal support has been deemed as totally irresponsible in ensuring the monthly payment to his/her former partner, then the court may order this single lump sum alimony payment instead
Failure to pay spousal support can merit the contempt of court. The punishment accompanying this failure can include fines, imprisonment, wage garnishment, liens on property and seizure of earnings, such as earnings from tax refund.