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Alimony may help lower-earning spouse following divorce

When two spouses decide to get divorced, spousal support (sometimes called alimony) may be awarded to one of the parties. The divorce court may award it based on an agreement that the couple has reached or based on its own decision. The aim of alimony in Montana is to limit the potentially unfair economic impact of the dissolution of a marriage.

With alimony, one spouse provides continual income to the other spouse during divorce proceedings and/or following the final decree. Typically, it applies when the other spouse earned less income or did not earn any at all during the marriage. This monetary support is sometimes awarded if the lower earning spouse chose to give up a career in order to take care of the family. With the alimony payments received, this party buys time to develop the job skills necessary to be self-supporting. Alimony can also help a spouse to maintain the particular standard of living he or she had while married.

Alimony is usually considered rehabilitative, which means it is required for as long as the recipient needs it to obtain the training needed to be self-supporting. In many cases, a divorce decree specifies a termination date for spousal support. However, if no date is included in the decree, the payments must continue until the court says they can stop -- often when the recipient gets remarried or upon the death of the party required to pay.

The determination of alimony is different from that for child support. Whereas most states, including Montana, have specific guidelines for child support payments, courts typically have broader discretion in deciding whether alimony should be awarded and how much. Courts consider factors such as the ages of the spouses, how long the marriage lasted and how much time the recipient would need to complete training or education. An attorney can help with pursuing a fair alimony amount considering the circumstances surrounding one's divorce case.

Source:, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics", Accessed on July 11, 2017

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