Understanding Alimony: Traditional Versus Modern Notions of Support By Jeff Weissman, Attorney at Law

Alimony is among the more complex areas of law that involves large stakes due to the transactional nature of one spouse supporting another. The following summary offers a look at the initial purposes of alimony compared to how it is used today.

The concept of alimony originally came about as a means of support from the working partner, or the financial provider for a couple, to a former spouse who was in need. Alimony served as a way to assist the support recipient in maintaining their standard of living after a dissolution of marriage action.

While the laws have changed dramatically over the years, alimony still offers an arrangement in which one spouse offers financial support to the other. Today, there are six common types. Temporary alimony is paid during the pendency of a divorce proceeding. Bridge-the-gap alimony is paid in short-term marriages and lasts for approximately two years after the divorce. Rehabilitative alimony is paid to help transition someone who has sacrificed his or her career goals during the marriage into becoming self-supporting. Durational alimony is paid in moderate-term marriages and can last up to the full length of the marriage. Permanent alimony is paid until either party dies or the recipient remarries, and is reserved for long-term marriages. And, lastly, lump-sum alimony offers a one-time payment after the divorce has been concluded.

About the Author:

Jeff Weissman is a practicing marital and family law attorney at Gladstone & Weissman, PA, in South Florida.