Society has changed quickly over the past 50 years, and Kentucky law hasn’t always kept pace. One thing that has changed in our commonwealth over the years is the way family law law courts deal with alimony.
Also known as spousal maintenance, alimony is a payment or series of payments from one ex-spouse to the other to help a divorced person live independently. In the past, when women were not always expected to work outside of the home, Kentucky courts frequently ordered spousal maintenance in divorce. These orders were often permanent, or at least until the ex-spouse remarried. In recent years, alimony has become somewhat rarer, but it is still required in many cases.
Today, courts don’t assume that women will not work outside the home, and they don’t assume that men are always going to be the so-called breadwinner in any marriage. Courts decide to order alimony in cases where one ex-spouse will be at a distinct financial disadvantage after the divorce. The paying party could be a man or a woman, and the same goes for the receiving party.
Courts determine that alimony is necessary if one party will be unable to support themselves through appropriate work. A court may also order alimony if the party will be taking care of a special needs child, or has some other concern that will interfere with working outside the home. If alimony is warranted, the court determines the amount required based on a number of factors, including:
- The duration of the marriage.
- The mental and physical abilities of the receiving party.
- The financial resources of the receiving party.
- The ability of the paying party to afford alimony.
- The time it will take the receiving party to obtain appropriate work.
The presence of a child support order can also be a factor, but it is important to note that child support is entirely separate from alimony. Also note that the parties may be free to negotiate alimony between themselves without the court ordering it for them, but they cannot negotiate away the need for child support.
Alimony can be a hot-button topic. Many people resent being ordered to pay money to an ex-spouse. But it can also be absolutely necessary in many cases. People going through divorce should ask a lawyer about whether alimony may be necessary in their case.