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Alimony refers to the financial assistance and monetary support provided by one spouse to another after a marriage ends in divorce. Oftentimes, the receiving spouse must be unable to support themselves without the help of their ex-spouse. Therefore, alimony is a sum of money calculated and fixed by the judge to be paid to one of the parents usually as a contribution to the maintenance and education of the child.

Depending on the state, support may be based on a series of factors, such as the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, degrees earned (if any) etc. The amount of the alimony can be calculated according to several elements related to the expenses and the conditions of resources of the divorced or separated parents, such as the net monthly income of the spouses, their credit, rent, taxation or specific expenses related to the children (health, education, etc). Payments may be in one lump sum, or in a series of monthly payments.  Duration of alimony is often based on the length of the marriage; in other words, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony payments.

[Last updated in November of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]