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alimony

n. support paid by one ex-spouse to the other as ordered by a court in a divorce (dissolution) case. Alimony is also called "spousal support" in California and some other states. Usually it is paid by the male to his ex, but in some cases a wealthy woman may have to pay her husband, or, in same-sex relationships the "breadwinner" may pay to support his/her stay-at-home former partner. Many counties and states have adopted formulas for alimony based on the income of each party. Payment of alimony is usually limited in time based on the number of years of marriage. Lengthy marriages may result in a lifetime of payments. A substantial change in circumstance, such as illness, retirement, or loss of income, can be grounds for the court to grant a modification or termination of the payment. Failure to pay ordered alimony can result in contempt of court citations and even jail time. The level of alimony can be determined by written agreement and submitted to the court for a stipulated order. Income tax-wise, alimony is deductible as an expense for the payer and charged as income to the recipient. Child support is not alimony.

See also: child support  divorce  spousal support 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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