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I earn less than my ex-wife. Will I still owe her alimony?

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Gone are the times when the husband was almost always forced to pay the ex-wife alimony in a divorce. Family roles have changed for many Maryland spouses. In many households, the husband stays at home with the children, while the wife is the one working and financially supporting the family. Because of this, alimony is not always awarded to women. In fact, spousal support is not even an issue in some marriages. It is awarded based on various factors.

The purpose of alimony is to provide income to a spouse who earns a lot less than the other. While a difference in income of $10,000 or so may not be enough to warrant an alimony award, there is certainly a huge difference if the wife makes a six-figure income while the husband earns nothing because he is in charge of caring for the couple's young children.

The court has the discretion to award alimony based on the financial state of the couple. In addition, their ages, health, education and length of marriage are taken into consideration. If one spouse is disabled, then the other spouse may be forced to pay permanent alimony. The payments would end if the recipient remarries or dies. If one spouse needs time to gain job skills, then the alimony may be temporary.

Spousal support is never guaranteed in a divorce and, if it is a possibility, it is given to the spouse with the lower income. It is no longer based on gender. Determining alimony amounts and lengths can be challenging for the court to decide. Those who feel they should be entitled to alimony should discuss this with a reputable family law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," accessed Sept. 13, 2014

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