An article published in The Wall Street Journal on October 31, 2009 garnered over 170 online emotionally charged comments over the weekend. The tenor of the article is set at the beginning: "Long viewed as payment for life, divorce settlements are facing strict new limits as some ex-spouses—primarily men—protest the endless support of a former partner. For richer, for poorer, forever?"
Bottom line: Alimony (spousal support) is not available to many women. Those who were married fewer than 7 to 10 years should expect no alimony award. Rehabilitative alimony is normally awarded to former wives who have children to raise and who have stayed out of the job market for many years. This disqualifies women in short-term marriages from an alimony award.
But what about women married for 15 to 20 years or longer?
The WSJ article gives many examples of modifications of alimony many years following a divorce and cites the hardships imposed upon the payor. In many instances, the payee looks like a scheming, undeserving individual -- often, but not always a female. Many of the comments warn about getting married and thus risking assumption of liability for the support of another.
The WSJ notes that several states have pending legislation that would drastically alter how, if, when, and for how long spousal support (alimony) might be ordered in a divorce case. See for example the following examples:
Massachusetts House Bill 1785: Alimony typically one-half the length of the marriage and no longer than 12 years, except when the supported party has minor children. Boston lawyer Steven Ballard discusses these two competing bills on his blog Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law Blog here. Another blogger has written here: Massachusetts Alimony Virus – Still No Vaccine Available - Stephen McDonough on October 3, 2009
Pennsylvania Senate Bill 953: Alimony can be terminated if the recipient cohabits with another adult in a romantic relationship.The WSJ article "The New Art of Alimony" may be read here. A one-time registration may be required. The Comments are found here.
Call me if you have a question about alimony or modification of a prior alimony provision.