What is Alimony? A Guide to Post-Divorce Financial Responsibilities - Zukerman Law

What is Alimony? A Guide to Post-Divorce Financial Responsibilities

Alimony, also called spousal support or maintenance, is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other after divorce or separation. It aims to provide financial assistance to an ex-spouse in need. Alimony involves nuanced legal and ethical considerations around meeting needs versus prolonging dependence. This blog post provides a concise overview of the critical issues involved in alimony, setting the stage for deeper discussion.

How Does Alimony Actually Work?

How Does Alimony Actually Work?

Alimony, a financial support system, comes into play after a marriage ends. It can be set up in several ways. Sometimes, a court decides one spouse should pay alimony. Other times, couples agree on it during their divorce. Even before marriage, some couples have agreements about alimony in case of divorce.

Once alimony is agreed upon or ordered by the court, the spouse who pays usually does so regularly, following a set schedule. There’s also a situation where the employer of the paying spouse directly deducts alimony from their paycheck. This ensures the other spouse receives the payments on time.

Temporary and Permanent Alimony: What's the Difference?

Temporary and Permanent Alimony: What’s the Difference?

Alimony can be temporary or permanent. Temporary alimony helps a spouse with less income for a short time. It’s used when this spouse is learning new skills or getting job training to earn more money later. Permanent alimony is for when one spouse will always make a lot less money, maybe because they haven’t worked in a long time or have health problems. This type helps balance the money difference between ex-spouses for a longer time.

Understanding Alimony Options

Understanding Alimony Options

Alimony, as a critical aspect of post-divorce finances, primarily exists in two forms in British Columbia (BC). The most common approach is regular monthly payments, providing ongoing financial support over a period. Alternatively, there’s the option of a one-time, substantial payment. This lump sum method settles alimony obligations in full, offering a straightforward resolution and eliminating future payment concerns. Both methods aim to balance financial disparities post-divorce, catering to different needs and situations.

What’s the Difference Between Alimony vs. Spousal Support?

The terms “alimony” and “spousal support” are often used interchangeably in the context of divorce and financial arrangements between former spouses. While historically, there might have been some nuances in their application and perception, in modern usage, they essentially refer to the same concept.

  • Alimony: Traditionally, alimony was a term used to describe a financial support system, where typically, the husband would provide ongoing support to his wife post-separation or divorce. This concept originated in times when divorce was rare or not legally recognized, and women often lacked independent financial means.
  • Spousal Support: This term, like alimony, signifies a financial arrangement where one spouse supports the other during or after a divorce. It’s a more modern and neutral term that doesn’t inherently assume gender roles or specific financial dynamics between spouses.

Both terms focus on providing financial assistance to the lower-earning or non-earning spouse to facilitate their transition to a financially independent post-divorce life. The purpose is to mitigate the economic impact of divorce, especially for a spouse who might have sacrificed career opportunities for the sake of marriage or family responsibilities.

How To Calculate Alimony?

How To Calculate Alimony?

When it comes to figuring out alimony, there are a few ways it can be done. Sometimes, couples work it out themselves during their divorce talks. They decide how much one should pay the other, and as long as they both agree, the court usually checks to make sure it’s fair.

If a prenuptial agreement includes terms about alimony, it typically determines the payment amount. However, if there are significant problems with the prenup, the court may choose not to follow it.

When couples can’t agree, and there’s no prenup, it’s up to the court to decide. The court looks at different things, which can vary by province. Generally, they think about how much money each person can make, how long the marriage lasted, whether each person can support themselves, the lifestyle they had while married, how they split their property, what each person did to help the other’s career, and their ages and health.

Need Alimony Advice? Zukerman Law GROUP Is Here to Help

A divorce lawyer can be really helpful to figure out if alimony might be needed and to guess how much the court might say to pay. This is where Zukerman Law Group comes in. With our expertise and guidance, you can navigate the complexities of alimony with confidence. If you’re facing alimony decisions, come talk to us at Zukerman Law Group. We’re here to help you understand and manage this crucial aspect of your post-divorce financial responsibilities.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.