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What is alimony?

Articles about celebrity divorces pop up in Florida newspapers from time-to-time, raising questions regarding which party will keep the power couple's real estate holdings and how they will divide up their time with their kids. These stories are interesting from an entertainment angle, but they can also be good tools for readers to learn from when it comes to preparing for and understanding the process of divorce. For example, one divorce-related topic that a reader may want to know more about is alimony.

Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is a form of financial support that one former married person provides to their ex after their relationship comes to an end. Alimony may be ordered by a court after a hearing, or the parties to a divorce may agree that one will provide the other with support through what essentially equates to a contract.

Alimony is generally paid every month and at a set amount. For example, based on the negotiations of a divorcing couple, a wife may agree to pay her soon-to-be ex-husband $800 every month to help him support himself in his new lifestyle. Alimony can be paid for many years but, as with all family law matters, it can take on different characteristics based on the needs and circumstances of each unique divorce.

Not all couples who divorce will have to deal with alimony. In fact, when both parties leave a marriage capable of supporting themselves they may elect to forego alimony in either direction. This may leave them only with property settlement and child support and custody matters to work out. In other instances, one party may seek alimony only to have that request denied by a judge. This highlights why it is important to ensure that one approaches this issue with a firm understanding of the legalities involved and how to utilize them to one's advantage.

This introduction to the topic of alimony is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should find legal representatives that they trust and with whom they may discuss their personal family law needs.

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