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Alimony: What you need to know if you want to seek it

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You've been married for several years, but in the end, you can't see yourself continuing in this relationship. You decide the best step is to go through a divorce. During your marriage, you and your spouse both worked, but he always earned more and supported the home and extras. Now, you want to go through a divorce, but you don't think you make enough to support yourself. What can you do? Are you entitled to alimony in this situation?

Are you entitled to alimony? 

It depends on the circumstances. Not every married person is entitled to alimony, but many are. Usually, alimony is only awarded when a former spouse won't be able to meet his or her financial needs without assistance. In that case, the higher-earning spouse provides support in an amount that is affordable and fair.

In the majority of cases, alimony is a temporary payment. It may only be for a few years, or it could be a one-time settlement payment. It's important to the court that the individual requested to pay alimony has the financial ability to do so. If the spouses earn similar amounts, then alimony may not be awarded. If one spouse makes a great deal more than the other, that's a situation more likely to end up with alimony payments.

Can you maintain your current lifestyle after the divorce?

This question is one you may have read about before. The courts want to know if you can maintain the same lifestyle after your divorce without alimony payments. If you can, you may not need alimony, whereas those who cannot afford a similar lifestyle need that additional income boost. Other factors that play a role include if you've been a stay-at-home parent, supported your spouse through higher education or supported your spouse during training for a higher-earning job.

Alimony is not guaranteed, but for those who have a significant discrepancy between their incomes, it may be part of your divorce settlement or a judge may order it. If you and your spouse agree that you deserve alimony, you may not need to go to court to have alimony ordered by the judge and can directly allocate funds for alimony in your settlement. Your attorney can help you understand your right to alimony and if you'll receive it in your situation.

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