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Alimony: What Do I Need to Know Before Divorce?

If you’re contemplating filing for divorce, it will be wise to familiarize yourself with the concept of alimony, as it will greatly impact your financial future. Knowing how it works will be helpful in effectively dealing with the divorce proceedings.

In many jurisdictions, the duration of the marriage plays a part in determining alimony. Longer marriages often result in substantial and, at times, even permanent alimony awards. You also have to be aware that alimony arrangements may not be set in stone. There are cases where alimony can be modified or terminated.

In this post, we will clarify if a wife can get alimony if she files for divorce and the laws surrounding spousal support. From the purpose and eligibility for alimony to the factors that come into play during determination and the different types and potential modifications, there is much to uncover in alimony.

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Purpose of Alimony

According to Monroe divorce lawyer Dana B. Lehnhardt, the first thing people need to know about alimony is that it is gender-neutral. Either spouse, regardless of gender, can be eligible to receive spousal support based on the circumstances of the divorce.

Alimony serves the purpose of providing financial support to the spouse who’s economically disadvantaged after a divorce. It’s designed to help them maintain a standard of living similar to what they had during their marriage. The goal is to not leave them in a financially vulnerable position after the divorce is finalized.

The court aims to make a fair and equitable decision that takes into account their financial needs and their ability to support themselves. Alimony can be awarded in various forms, such as temporary or rehabilitative alimony, to help them become self-sufficient.

In some cases, permanent alimony may be awarded if you have a long-term economic disadvantage compared to your former spouse. Do note that alimony isn’t guaranteed, and the court will consider all relevant circumstances before making a decision.

Eligibility for Alimony

Eligibility for alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, changes depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of your case. In general, alimony is awarded to spouses who are unable to support themselves financially after the dissolution of the marriage.

Eligibility for alimony isn’t automatic and is subject to the discretion of the court. In some cases, alimony may be awarded temporarily to provide financial support during the divorce process. Alimony may be awarded on a long-term or permanent basis, especially if one spouse sacrificed their career or education to support the other spouse’s career or to care for the family.

To find out your eligibility for alimony, it’s best to consult with a qualified family law attorney who can evaluate your specific circumstances and advise you on the potential outcome of your case.

Factors Considered in Alimony Determination

When determining alimony, courts take into account various factors to assess the financial needs and abilities of both spouses. These factors adjust based on the jurisdiction, but there are some common considerations that most courts take into consideration:

  • The length of the marriage, 
  • The income and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The contributions made by each spouse to the marriage
  • The age, health, and education of both spouses
  • Any agreements made between the parties in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Generally, longer marriages are more likely to result in alimony payments, as there’s usually a greater financial interdependence between the spouses and if one spouse earns significantly more than the other, the court may award alimony to help balance the financial disparity.

If one spouse is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, the court may award alimony to have the spouse maintain a standard of living after the divorce.

Types of Alimony

There are types of alimony that can be awarded based on your specific situation and can vary by jurisdiction. 

  • Temporary or Pendente Lite Alimony. It is awarded during the divorce process to cover the immediate expenses of the dependent spouse. This type of alimony is usually temporary and ends once the divorce is finalized.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony. This is awarded to help the financially dependent spouse become self-supporting. It lasts for a specific period, during which the recipient spouse is expected to acquire the education or skills necessary to support themselves.
  • Permanent Alimony. This is for cases where the recipient spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to age, disability, or other factors. Typically awarded for an indefinite period, but it may be modified or terminated under certain circumstances.
  • Reimbursement Alimony. It is to compensate one spouse for expenses they incurred during the marriage that directly benefited the other spouse. This type of alimony is usually a one-time payment.

Modification of Alimony Orders

Modifying alimony orders can be a legal process that allows for changes to the amount or duration of spousal support payments following a divorce. Life circumstances can change, and what may have been appropriate at the time of the divorce may no longer be fair or feasible. 

To request a modification of alimony, you’ll need to demonstrate a significant change in circumstances, as well as gather documentation and evidence to support your case. Here’s what you have to demonstrate:

  • A decrease in Income
  • Loss of Employment
  • Disability 
  • Increase in the Recipient’s Income

To initiate a modification, you’ll need to file a motion with the court that issued the original alimony order. This motion should outline the reasons for the modification and provide supporting evidence. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments before a judge, who will then determine whether a modification is warranted.

Modification isn’t automatic, and it’s up to the court’s discretion but if you can demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances, there’s a possibility of obtaining a modification to better reflect your current situation.


Before going through a divorce, you have to be aware of exactly what alimony is. Knowing the purpose and the possibility of modifying alimony orders can help you handle this complex process. By being well-informed about alimony, you can better protect your financial interests and make informed decisions for your future.