Alimony

alimony, in law, allowance for support that an individual pays to his or her former spouse, usually as part of a divorce settlement. It is based on the common law right of a wife to be supported by her husband, but in the United States, the Supreme Court in 1979 removed its limitation to husbands, to account for cases in which the wife is wealthier. Alimony is distinct from child support, which is the duty of both mother and father to contribute, based on ability to pay, to the support of minor children. Temporary alimony is allowed pending the outcome of a suit for divorce or separation, or for a decree of nullity of marriage, whether initiated by husband or wife; permanent alimony may be granted after a divorce has taken effect. In contemporary law, alimony is generally awarded only in cases where one spouse is unable to support himself or herself. Such cases are not common: recent figures show that some 90% of U.S. divorces are free of alimony requirements. Alimony ceases on the death of the individual liable; it is not payable out of his or her estate. Remarriage of the individual collecting alimony does not necessarily terminate payments, but the amount may be reduced or the court may cut them off if the recipient's new spouse can support him or her adequately. In all cases the need for and amount of alimony are questions that can be reopened at any time in a court having jurisdiction over the parties. A decree awarding alimony is a court order issued personally, and enforced by contempt of court sanctions. Today, alimony is often called "maintenance." In cases of extended cohabitation, so-called palimony sometimes may be awarded.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Alimony: Selected full-text books and articles

Reforming Alimony: Massachusetts Reconsiders Postdivorce Spousal Support By Kindregan, Charles P., Jr Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, February 2013
The History of Alimony in Texas and the New "Spousal Maintenance" Statute By Paulsen, James W Texas Journal of Women, Gender, and the Law, Vol. 7, No. 2, April 1, 1998
Alimony: An Anomaly in Family Social Science By Shehan, Constance L.; Berardo, Felix M.; Owens, Erica; Berardo, Donna H Family Relations, Vol. 51, No. 4, October 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Unprincipled Family Dissolution: The American Law Institutes Recommendations for Spousal Support and Division of Property By Westfall, David Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 27, No. 3, Summer 2004
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Alone Together: Law and the Meanings of Marriage By Milton C. Regan Jr Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian's tip: Chap. Seven "Divorce Awards and Property Rhetoric"
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