Alimony Definition: What is Alimony?

What is Alimony (Alimony Definition)?  Alimony is defined as a monetary payment from one spouse to another spouse after a divorce to help that spouse when there is an unfair economic condition.

What are the reasons for Alimony?  There a multiple reasons why Alimony would be provided to a spouse.  The top reason is the ability for one spouse to pay and the other spouse’s need.   Another reason is that one spouse put their career on hold to care for the children.  A third reason is that one spouse supported the other spouse to help that spouse advance in their career, such as providing financial support while that spouse earned a degree.

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How much Alimony is possible? The amount of Alimony calculated and received depends on a number of factors.  Every case is different, but generally these are the factors as discussed in our Alimony Calculator article:

Here are some possible guidelines your state may use when calculating alimony:

  • The number of years you are married
  • The ability of the receiving spouse to work
  • The ability of the paying spouse to make the payments
  • The age, physical and emotional health of both of the spouses
  • The contributions each spouse made to the marriage from a financial and non-financial way
  • The education, skills and ability to be employed for the receiving spouse
  • The split of assets in the divorce
  • There are no more “no fault” states, so fault is not a factor anymore.  New York was the last state to become a “no fault” state.


Generally, the courts review the earning capacity of the spouse in need and also the income of the paying spouse.

How is Alimony paid?  Generally Alimony is paid monthly or on a regular basis.  However, it is possible to get a lump sum payment of Alimony.  The benefits to receiving money in a lump-sum payment is that there will be no issues collecting the money in the future and both parties feel like it is over and not lingering.  The disadvantage is that the amount may be a reduced amount because it is paid all at once and there may be tax disadvantages as well.

How do I get Alimony?  Alimony can be agreed upon in a separation or stipulation agreement and if it cannot be agreed upon, one spouse can request help form the courts to determine the right amount.

The Alimony Definition specified above discusses some of the nuances of Alimony and Spousal Support.  As you can see there are a lot of things to consider during this process of determing if there should be Alimony and also the right amount.

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