When you commit yourself to a marital union, you also agree to enter into a legal relationship. Marriage binds you with rights and obligations. One of these legal obligations is to provide financial support to your spouse even after the relationship has ended. Spousal support, otherwise known as alimony, can be enforced either during your divorce or after the termination of your marriage.

What is Alimony?

Alimony refers to a sum of money that the husband or wife must provide periodically. The court may order you to give alimony even if the divorce is still being processed. It may also be ordered by the court after the divorce. The practice of giving alimony has already been done since the ancient times. Today, especially in the United States, alimony finds its roots in the English ecclesiastical courts.

How to Qualify for Alimony

Both parties can demand for alimony. However, the court considers the following factors.

  • If you are the recipient, the court will examine your current financial obligations, debts, and monthly earnings.
  • If you are the provider, the court will look into your financial capacity such as your annual or monthly income excluding your current debts.
  • Length of your marriage.
  • Status of your child custody.
  • Serious misconducts that significantly end your relationship.

Common Views about Alimony

Lawmakers and scholars express different opinions about the significance of alimony. For some people, alimony is regarded as payment for violating the contract of marriage. Others would say that spousal support is simply a mutual sharing of resources or also a form of compensation for one’s contribution to the relationship.

Marital Misconduct

Before alimony is enforced, the court will investigate if there is marital misconduct, which includes the following:

  • Illicit sexual relations during the marriage
  • Criminal acts that lead to separation
  • Neglect or abandonment.
  • Domestic abuse/violence
  • Financial mismanagement
  • Addiction


When no-fault divorce laws become widespread in the United States, courts begin to reconsider the impact of marital misconduct on alimony. Based on the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, a spouse is qualified for alimony if there is sufficient evidence of financial dependence. Even if there is marital misconduct, the court would still order the other party to provide alimony.

For the past several years, most states in the country subscribe to this rule, according to the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution. In fact, at least twenty U.S. states strictly follow this regulation. In most of these states, marital misconduct does not have a direct influence on the court’s decision to carry out alimony.

However, in rare instances, the court may decide differently based on the gravity of the misconduct. For example, if one party’s financial capacity is severely affected due to the misconduct, then the court may impose bigger alimony on the other party. The court may also decide to restrict alimony if the recipient has shown several attempts to destroy the life of his or her ex-partner.

In summary, the issues surrounding marital misconduct and alimony can be quite complicated. For your own benefit, you should consult a qualified lawyer to address your concerns more appropriately.

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