Areas of Practice
Can A Spouse Pay Alimony Forever?
One of the elements of marriage and divorce that has not been proceeding as quickly as other legal components it the concept of alimony. The need for alimony itself is still relevant in modern society; after all, there are certain cases when, in the event of a divorce, one of the party is severely disadvantaged financially by the divorce, and may need monetary support. This is especially true if the question of raising children is also part of the equation.
However, alimony itself no longer applies in the way it used. When alimony was originally conceived, it was a product of more-by modern standards -gender-biased thinking. The assumption was that people rarely divorced, and on those occasions when it happened, the wife was a full-time homemaker, uneducated and had no career prospects either now or in the future, and thus required alimony as a matter of survival since she could not enter the workforce.
Today of course, this is hardly the case. Some males choose to be homemakers to raise the family and support a wife, some couples are same sex, and some couples are double-income earners, and both financially self-sufficient with no children.
However, the courts are still wrestling all these permutations. Fortunately for Pennsylvania, much of the decision for alimony is at the discretion of a judge. In most cases, a judge may stipulate alimony payments for a set duration, until such time as both parties are considered “back on their feet” financially.
In other cases, however, a judge may have no set period at all, and leave the alimony payments to occur indefinitely, subject to review if there is a need. So while it is theoretically still legally possible for someone to pay alimony “for all time,” a good divorce lawyer and a review of the financial circumstances are good starts towards addressing this if life situations change.