Why Alimony Exists

Why alimony exists

Alimony has been around for a long time.  The original theory of alimony was that women were not able to support themselves and thus needed to be supported following the marriage.  Since the time that women have been able to own property and support themselves, alimony has been evolving and now the award of alimony varies hugely from state to state.

Quoting a quote from a scholarly article written by Barbara Aaron and Samuel V. Schoonmaker, IV in 2009,

“alimony awards continue to address two practical issues: (1) Disparate marital roles position individual spouses differently at the time of marital dissolution, and (2) Alimony can address an inequity that otherwise would result from this disparity.Numerous academics have struggled to determine the purpose of alimony. There are three main categories into which a multitude of alimony theories fall: Loss Theory, Gain Theory and Contribution Theory.”

You can read the article at the following link


I urge anyone who wonders why, in this modern, liberated world, alimony still exists, to read this article.

Alimony in North Carolina

Alimony or spousal support, whatever you want to call it, is still alive and well in North Carolina.  The North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 50 on Divorce and Alimony,  G.S. 50-16.3A, doesn’t contain any formula, but instead provides 16 different criteria that a judge would consider when awarding alimony.   What that means is an award of alimony is unpredictable, and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and judge to judge. You can find read the statute at the following link


Alimony has long term implications

Other than child custody, divorce is about money.  Alimony is a contentious issue.  When parties are negotiating alimony, knowing the long term implications of a proposed settlement is critical to understanding the effect on both parties and their financial wellbeing and that is where the value of a CDFA comes in.   This seems straightforward to me, and yet most divorce settlements are not decided in this manner.  Where a financial expert is not involved, property division and alimony are often being decided based on a snapshot picture of a financial situation, and not on a long term analysis.

The emotional aspect of divorce, particularly when one spouse feels they are not at fault, can leave that spouse believing that he or she is entitled to a certain amount of money as part of a divorce settlement, even if it’s not what’s available, what they need, or what they are entitled to. Many have false expectations that they will be able to secure a divorce settlement allowing them to continue with their accustomed style of living.  Or the opposite may be true; one spouse may think they are being taken to the cleaners when actually their long term cash flow and net worth will be just fine.  When you know how much money you and your spouse have and what you will need to meet your basic expenses, and what your future cash flow and net worth look like, it’s easier to reach a compromise in a divorce. Compromising (settling) your divorce quickly, but in a financially educated manner, will save thousands, and both parties can get on with their lives.

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