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Will I automatically receive alimony if my ex-spouse makes more money?

Since the 1960s, societal views and expectations of men and women have dramatically changed and evolved. Fifty years ago, many U.S. households depended solely on the man to provide financial support, while women stayed home to raise children and tend to a home. Today, many women work outside the home and a growing number are out-earning their husbands.

Previously when a couple divorced, it was customary for an ex-wife to be awarded alimony or spousal support. However, with more women today working outside the home and earning their own incomes, customs and rules related to the awardance of alimony have also changed.

It's no longer a foregone conclusion that a woman will receive spousal support in a divorce. Today, alimony laws vary from state to state and the courts are more likely to take a spouse's circumstances rather than sex into account when making spousal support decisions.

When making a determination with regard to alimony, a court is likely to take the following factors into consideration.

  • Each spouses age and physical and mental health
  • Length of the marriage
  • Income of both spouses and lifestyle enjoyed during a marriage 
  • Determined time it would take for the disadvantaged spouse to increase his or her earning potential

In cases where the court decides to award one spouse alimony, today many states impose time limits on such payments. Frequently, alimony payments continue for a certain number of years or until the spouse receiving payments remarries. 

Montgomery County residents who are planning to or going through a divorce would be wise to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney. Additionally, individuals who are seeking to modify the amount of alimony they are currently paying or receiving can benefit from an attorney’s advice.  

Source:, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," 2014

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