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States reconsider permanent spousal support in divorces

The concept of alimony has a long history, so it is likely not a foreign one to many Texas residents who are familiar with the vocabulary of divorce. Simply put, it's a financial commitment of spousal support between the two parties after a legal separation or divorce. The parties who normally receive the support tend to have low or no income and need the funds to maintain a healthy household for themselves and their children. For many, alimony has been a forgone conclusion in divorce proceedings. However, changes are taking place or being considered in many states that may alter the nature of this support.

Rather than give a divorced spouse financial support for the rest of his or her life, some states are trying to determine if it is better to dole out a set amount payments for a shortened period of time proportionate to the length of the marriage. New laws approved in Massachusetts and Florida utilize mathematical formulas to determine the final alimony outcome.

The proponents of these alimony changes believe the time is ripe for reform. They feel that spouses should not pay support to their former partners for the rest of their lives if the other spouse decides to move on and no longer needs the financial advantage. On the other hand, opponents say these alterations may affect the women who rely on the alimony payments. They also think the formulas used to determine the time and payment amounts are too generic and don't focus on the spouse's individual needs.

A family law attorney may be able to help a divorcing spouse evaluate his or her financial situation and understand how alimony could figure into his or her future. The attorney might also help negotiate an equitable settlement between two divorcing spouses in order to avoid a drawn-out court battle.

Source: MainStreet.com, "Is This the End of Alimony?", Cheryl Lock, July 01, 2013

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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