Is it True a Husband Always Has to Pay Alimony When They Get Divorced?

By Mary Jane Freeman

When couples divorce, one or both spouses may ask the court to award alimony, also known as spousal support and maintenance. The court looks at a variety of factors when determining whether alimony should be granted, in what amount and how long it should last. However, courts are prohibited from awarding alimony based on gender or excluding a spouse from receiving it for the same reason.

Gender-Based Alimony is a Myth

When spouses divorce, alimony is sometimes awarded to one spouse. In the past, alimony was typically reserved for wives. This was because the traditional family structure consisted of the wife staying home to care for the household while the husband worked and paid the bills. However, this began to change in the 1970s, and alimony law was made gender-neutral in all states. As a result, courts can no longer take a spouse's gender into consideration when awarding alimony. So, either spouse may be required to pay it.

Alimony Factors

Even though gender is not considered, state courts evaluate other factors when making alimony decisions, some of which are codified in state laws. Common factors include the duration of the marriage, standard of living established during the marriage, age of spouses and their emotional and physical health, contributions each spouse made to the marriage including income, education and employability of each spouse, and whether one spouse serves as a child's primary caretaker. In many states, alimony may be temporary during the divorce proceedings, short-term to help a spouse adjust to single life, long-term or permanent.

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How to Calculate Alimony in New Hampshire

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Divorce Law in New Hampshire for Alimony

Following a divorce, alimony may be awarded to help a struggling spouse transition to single life, with the hope that both spouses will eventually secure an independent source of income. In New Hampshire, courts rarely award permanent alimony. In determining short-term alimony, the courts will consider the relative income of each party and each party's ability to make money.

How to Determine Alimony in SC

To prepare for a divorce, it is important for both parties to have an understanding of the factors a court will consider in determining whether to award alimony and the types and amounts to request. In South Carolina, the length of the marriage, the existence of any marital misconduct, the parties' earning capacity, and the physical and mental health of both parties will be considered in determining the length, type and amount of an order for alimony.

How Are Alimony Payments Determined?

Alimony is never a sure thing in a divorce. In most states, it comes down to the discretion of a judge. Congress has passed the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act to address alimony, but it includes suggestions for awarding it, not hard and fast laws. One common guideline is the length of a marriage. Judges most commonly award alimony after long-term marriages and almost never after marriages of just a few years’ duration.

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