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What is Alimony?

Alimony is support payments that one member of a divorcing couple makes to the other one. Alimony is also called spousal support or maintenance. Alimony is often left up to the discretion of the judge presiding over the matter.

In the majority of states alimony is granted if one spouse makes a great deal less money than the other and it is provided for only a specified period of time while the person becomes more self supporting by way of special courses or training and/or other forms of education. In some instances alimony is also granted for a specified period of time in order for a person to stay home and care for a young child.

Alimony and Loans

In most instances, alimony payments must be received continuously for one year to be counted toward qualifying income for a loan.

Long-term Alimony

Some states grant long-term alimony if the couple has been married a very long time and if there is a tremendous disparity between the incomes and earning capacity of each. However, long-term alimony is becoming less common.

Types of Alimony

There are three main types of alimony: permanent, rehabilitative, and temporary.

Permanent alimony is generally only awarded to an older person or an unskilled person who has been in a long-standing marriage. A long-standing marriage is one that has lasted at least 20 years. Another reason for permanent alimony is when the ex-spouse will no longer be able to maintain a certain standard of living.

Rehabilitative alimony is when alimony is paid for a specified length of time in order that the individual can find a way to earn a better living and/or is able to qualify for a promotion at work that brings in a greater income.

Temporary alimony is designed to compensate an ex-spouse who has supported the other ex-spouse during their marriage while the spouse went to school or built a successful career. Other reasons for awarding temporary alimony is when a spouse supported another spouse while they wrote a book, etc. The courts compensate the person for the length of time that they supported the other person. Another circumstance for temporary alimony is when one of the spouses stayed home to raise a young child. The spouse who stayed home is compensated for the time they did not work full-time.

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