Is alimony outdated...a thing of the past?

What is the status of alimony these days? Say a couple divorces (no children.) Does the ex-husband have to pay X dollars a month to his ex? For how long? Until she remarries? What if she never remarries? It’s always seemed strange to me that, essentially, the ex-husband is footing the bill for his ex-wife to carry on with her new life, presumably dating and such. Does the ex-wife automatically get alimony or does she have to sue for it?

Lots of questions, I know, but I’ve always wondered.


This will vary greatly by state. Fer instance, Texas doesn’t have allimony except in very limited circumstances.

In Ohio, it’s called “spousal support.” Having looked into this myself, I can tell you it’s not always the ex-husband who pays it. I’m the sole wage earner, and I have been advised that if I file for divorce (as opposed to working out the separation agreement and getting a dissolution), it’s quite likely I would be ordered to pay spousal support to my husband/ex-husband. In court, my lawyer would argue that my husband is unemployed by choice rather than circumstance and therefore should not receive spousal support, since the assumption is he could get a job if he looked for one.

The way one of the lawyers (since IANAL) explained it to me is that judges do not want to see anyone put out on the street as a result of a divorce. Spousal support would be ordered for a specified period of time, presumably however long the judge thinks it would take for the person receiving it to become self-supporting.

The above posters are correct and it does vary wildly by state. It was created years ago when women typically didn’t work, so society thought it unfair to toss her out on the street or make her live with her parents, especially if the dissolution of the marriage wasn’t her fault.

Today, it depends on the circumstances, but generally if both parties have pretty much equal incomes, then no alimony. If you are Bill Gates and Mrs. Bill Gates is a stay at home mom, get out your checkbook. Fault is less and less prevelant, but again, it varies by state…