The alimony debate: Is alimony necessary or outdated?

An author and facilitator of marriage workshops recently offered her views on the issue of alimony in response to questions from her clients, who took one side or the other based on age and marital status.

Younger clients felt that alimony following divorce was a thing of the past, out of place in today’s modern world. Older clients felt that alimony helped balance the scales of justice for spouses who had voluntarily given up wage-earning roles in favor of providing non-monetary support for the marriage. Spouses who put their careers on “pause” to raise children, who moved from city to city to support their spouse’s promotions, and spouses who created and maintained a Georgia lifestyle that increased their spouse’s earning capacity believe that alimony is a legal entitlement, not a holdover from another era.

The expert sees the merits of both points of view. The fact that you were married to someone who earned more than you did doesn’t automatically entitle you to alimony. When each spouse is self-supporting, alimony is unnecessary. However, if a divorce will leave one spouse on shaky financial ground while the other spouse remains financially secure, alimony may be appropriate.

In other words, alimony should be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances of each marriage. That is the view in Georgia, where judges command considerable discretion over the matter and where alimony, frankly, is not as liberally construed as it is in certain other states.

The facilitator took a firm stand on two important issues in divorce. First, she believes child support is the equal responsibility of both parents, regardless of whether alimony comes into play. Second, she believes alimony is a gender-neutral issue, and that either a husband or a wife should pay alimony where the situation indicates it is appropriate.

Source: Huffington Post, “Is alimony still necessary?” Kristen Houghton, May 21, 2012

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