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I Have Been Ordered To Pay – How Long Will Alimony Last?

posted by Bedrock Divorce Advisors 10:00 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Mary and John married the plan was for Mary to work while John completed his doctorate in literature.  The idea was that John would eventually get a job in academia.  That never happened. John was unemployed during most of the marriage.

When Mary and John decided to end the marriage, Mary thought that they would split the marital assets and that would be it.  She was surprised to find that she was considered the primary breadwinner and that John was the “economically disadvantaged”  spouse who needed help getting back on his feet. She was ordered to pay alimony for three years.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are the primary breadwinners for one-third of all marriages.  This means that more and more husbands are the recipients of alimony (also known as spousal support or maintenance).

State laws differ, but generally speaking “economically disadvantaged” (dependent) spouses are granted temporary alimony / maintenance based on the length of their marriage and whether they have the ability to financially support themselves (For more details on how alimony is determined, click here –

So this leaves a lot of women asking, “How long will alimony last?”

In certain situations, it is possible that alimony / spousal support will be granted for a lifetime.  However, depending on the circumstances it is more likely that maintenance will be granted for a certain period of time.  Regardless, there are two situations where alimony will almost always terminate:

1.    If the receiving spouse remarries; or,
2.    If the paying or receiving spouse dies.

There are certain other circumstances that may be considered as grounds for terminating alimony such as if the receiving spouse is living with another person as if they were a married couple.  However, having alimony terminated in these situations may mean going back to court and more legal fees.

If you are a woman and the breadwinner of your family and are contemplating or facing divorce, contact one of our Divorce Financial Strategists™ who can guide you through the process so that you will have a better understanding of how much alimony, if any, you will need to pay and for how long .

All content on this site/blog is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, retain a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney.

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