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Alimony: An Overview

Alimony is a legally binding obligation on one spouse to financially support the other spouse. The support may continue through the marriage or even during and after divorce. Granting of alimony is not mandatory and is under the discretion of court. Spousal support can be worked out among the couple and here the court does not interfere.

Divorce law considers alimony as an obligation to support each other through marriage and divorce. Most commonly the need for support arises during separation or divorce. Either of the concerned spouses can put up a request for post marital alimony but it must be noted that alimony is not their right. If the court awards alimony to the spouse who requested it, the terms of agreement and amount of spousal support varies and is calculated according to many factors and circumstances.

Spousal Support Determination

Many factors are taken into consideration while determining the amount of alimony or spousal support. The duration of payment is a vital factor and should be given due consideration. Other factors like age and health of couples, gender, duration of marriage, separation time, grounds for divorce, relative income per spouse, financial prospects of each spouse, fault in marital breakdown etc. are also evaluated prior to finalizing support amount.

Alimony Modifications

A request for modification can be filed at any time, but for the modification to be implemented court ruling is necessary and this can be obtained only if there are valid reasons. The concerned party can apply for a modification after informing the other party of the agreement. Many states grant alimony if former spouse becomes public charge. Alimony is mostly mistaken to be similar to child support but the truth is far from it. Alimony is paid as a form of income to one of the spouses (receiving person) from the income of the other spouse (paying person).

Alimony payments have one major disadvantage, if paying person defaults on his alimony payments, the receiving ex spouse do not have many legal options to acquire the payments. Under the circumstances, an experienced divorce attorney can make a difference. Some states do consider default on alimony payments as contempt of court and hence the offender could be imprisoned. Collection agency is another option but if done with guidance from legal counsel, the efforts would be fruitful. In cases where couples do not come to agreements on alimony, court interferes to decide.