Job and income are factors in awarding alimony payments

The idea behind alimony is that when a married couple chooses to separate, whether that is through a divorce or dissolution, there is an obligation to provide some sort of financial support to a spouse. Typically, a judge will decide what the alimony payments should be based on factors such as the need for money and the other spouse's ability to pay.

Often, alimony payments are not indefinite and end when the spouse receiving the payments gets married or finds a job. However in one state, a divorce case could change the way alimony payments are awarded. If the change happens, will other states follow in suit?

According to the article, a couple was divorced several years ago but has still been in a fight over alimony payments. In 2009, the husband was ordered to pay the ex-wife a certain amount in monthly alimony payments. According to the ruling, he had to pay her alimony until she got married or died.

Typically this type of alimony is awarded to a spouse who is 50 years old or above who gave up a career for family. Judges also tend to look at whether the spouse could find a different job that would allow her to keep her lifestyle before getting divorced.

But in this particular case, the husband and wife both worked jobs that provided enough financial security. In addition, the wife did not give up her career when she got married. The judge ruled that the alimony payments should cease. However when the case reached the state's Court of Appeals, the ruling was overturned because the husband earned more than the wife.

Now the case has reached the state's Supreme Court and the ruling could alter the way that alimony awards are given. Would that set precedence for other states? Should lifelong alimony payments be made even if the receiving spouse has a good job and a high income?

Source:  The Tennessean online, "TN Supreme Court considers change in alimony payments," Associated Press, 10 March 2011

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