Ex-Couples: How Alimony Works

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

“It is easy to preach financial independence,” a new Savvy Ladies member remarked at a recent seminar, “but I have already spent ten years as a housewife. My husband and I are miserable together, but there’s no way I would survive without his financial support.”

Unfortunately, her situation is far from uncommon. But the good news is: she can get divorced and still maintain a fair standard of living while she gets back on her feet and starts a career of her own. How? The answer is alimony.

While not a given right, US law mentions that parties in a divorce should be able to live “according to the means to which they have become accustomed.” Meaning, if during the past ten years you made zero dollars while your spouse made $300,000 per year, chances are pretty good that you’ll be able to maintain a decent lifestyle on your own.

The length during which an ex-spouse receives alimony depends on many things, from age (younger individuals are generally considered as having better chances to move on with their lives) to how long the marriage lasted. So while nothing is guaranteed, there is still hope!

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