What is “Alimony”?

Posted On May 9th, 2016 by Michael Dunham

[Ed: Originally published on Facebook.]

This week we’re going to explore the concept of “alimony”. We start with a basic definition – alimony is support (almost always money) paid by one spouse to the other. If you see references to “spousal support”, that’s alimony. You may occasionally see older references to “alimony for the support of minor children”, but generally that term has fallen into disuse in favor of the simpler, more modern phrase, “child support”.

A more analytical definition of alimony is that it is the allowance out of the FUTURE estate of one spouse, for the support of the other spouse. This is an important concept because it is contrasted with property division, which is an allowance out of the CURRENT (marital) estate. (For more information about property division, check out our posts from a few weeks ago.) Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at the interplay between alimony and property division.