Why do I have to pay alimony?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2017 | Family Law |

Every alimony case is different and the amount of alimony to be paid will depend on the incomes of both spouses, the length of the marriage and other factors. Whether you’re happy about alimony or not, the use of spousal support by the court make sense from a historical and practical standpoint.

Let’s say you’re a 32-year-old mother of four. You married when you were 18, and had your first baby shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, your husband went to university, grad school and even got his doctorate. Due to your husband’s success — which your support played no small role in — you’ve been raising your family in an affluent, high-earning household. Your own education and career could have been just as successful as your husband’s, but you gave that up to be a homemaker and raise your family.

The problem is, you’re facing divorce and you can’t earn an income that’s capable of matching your husband’s. The decision to divorce – whether it’s yours or your husbands – means that you will be impoverished, without any means of financial support.

This is where alimony can help.

Alimony: Then and now

In the past, women did not have any property rights in their marriages, and they rarely had the ability to get a high-earning job. Nevertheless, they did have the right to receive alimony payments in the event of divorce – as long as the divorce was not the woman’s fault. Courts would base the amount of alimony payments on the size of the family estate prior to the divorce. Alimony was a method – albeit an insufficient one from the perspective of women’s rights – for the courts to make things fairer for women.

These days, divorce and alimony laws are a lot fairer. In the modern system, women and men have equal property rights during their marital asset division proceedings. Additionally, if the woman or man has a lesser earning capacity, a Florida court might award alimony to either spouse – regardless his or her sex – in order to level the financial playing field.

The most important modern benefit of alimony is the fact that it prevents a lesser-earning spouse from being trapped in a toxic or abusive marriage due to financial reasons. For example, what if a mother or father could not support his or her children financially, but is forced to endure an abusive or toxic relationship in order to not lose access to his or her children? Alimony prevents this kind of situation from happening by allowing spouses to maintain the financial freedom to leave their marriages.

Alimony is intended to be fair

From its inception, spousal support was intended to be “fair.” However, in order to ensure that a judge’s alimony award is indeed reasonable, spouses in the throes of an alimony dispute may want to contract the services of an experienced divorce attorney. Whether you’re the payer or recipient of alimony, a Florida alimony lawyer will help protect your legal rights.

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