The question of alimony or spousal support to be paid at divorce is often a very contentious and important issue, particularly for the divorcing spouse who has no immediate means of support, skills or experience that allow them to make a living. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney on the issue is important for both divorcing spouses.
The allowance and treatment of alimony or spousal support usually varies from state to state. Generally, alimony involves a simple contract by one divorcing spouse to pay a fixed sum of money, usually on a monthly basis for a fixed period, to the other divorcing spouse. Spousal support, however, where it is recognized, often is a form of legally enforceable support (like child support) that can be enforced by contempt or other extraordinary relief from the courts, both by the recipient former spouse and the relevant state government. Spousal support also may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy, while alimony may be treated differently.
For these reasons it is critically important to consult with an experienced family lawyer when addressing the issue of alimony or spousal support, especially for the divorcing spouse who is at risk of an economic advantage during and potentially after the divorce. A divorcing spouse can suffer severe economic hardship if he or she does not understand their rights and duties with respect to alimony or spousal support. An experienced attorney will understand the circumstances and conditions under which alimony or spousal support is likely to be granted by a court.