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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Wyoming Laws on Alimony
 

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Alimony Laws in Tennessee

Alimony is a monetary award paid to the financially weaker spouse after a divorce. Tennessee courts can award one of several types of alimony available, based on a number of factors that generally include duration of marriage, age and mental health of the receiving spouse, and education and potential need for training for the receiving spouse. The type of alimony awarded is based on the spouses' circumstances, and the court may award more than one type of alimony, where appropriate. The law also dictates when alimony can be modified, as well as when the obligation to pay terminates.

Do I Get Alimony if I Make More Money Than My Ex-Husband?

Should a couple that previously lived comfortably in a two-income household divorce, each must make financial adjustments to accommodate for the lost income. Individuals who do not work or earn considerably less than their spouses may qualify for support payments in the form of alimony. Courts do not grant alimony in every divorce case, and your current income plays a significant role in whether or not you are eligible to receive alimony from your ex-husband.

Family Law on Alimony and Physical Abuse

No-fault divorce went nationwide in 2010 when New York became the last state to recognize grounds such as irreconcilable differences and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Some states, such as Florida, recognize only no-fault grounds. It's no longer necessary to prove your spouse did something wrong in order to get a divorce, no matter where you live. However, this doesn’t mean that marital misconduct, such as physical abuse, will not affect issues of alimony, even in pure no-fault states.

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