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Is an end to lifetime alimony in our future?

Some Lafayette residents who keep up with family law news may have read some of the arguments in the last few years for ending lifetime alimony. Currently, many states allow lifetime alimony if a couple was married for a long time. Usually those spousal support payments will only end if the receiving spouse gets remarried or dies. Some say, however, that these laws are outdated and unfair.

While Louisiana has not made moves away from lifetime alimony yet, other states have. More than a year ago, Massachusetts implemented laws that changed the way alimony is handled. While lifetime alimony can still be awarded in some cases, the state created different types of alimony that are generally based on how long a couple was married and what need exists. Additionally, Florida lawmakers have sent a bill to the governor that would end lifetime spousal support and cap alimony payments. So what is the problem with lifetime alimony?

In general, lifetime alimony is becoming increasingly unnecessary -- and a burden for some. Fewer spouses than in the past forego careers to be stay-at-home parents or homemakers, meaning more spouses -- women in particular -- are able to support themselves independently. While some spouses may need a short-term financial boost to get back on their feet after a divorce, proponents of changing alimony rules say that there is little need for these payments to go on for a person's entire life. The person paying alimony, they say, often gets shortchanged.

Alimony is no doubt an important part of divorce. If a spouse did give up his or her career to take care of the kids, or if one spouse made significantly less money than the other, alimony is certainly warranted for at least some amount of time. However, as the debate over alimony continues to surge in the country, it will be interesting to see if and how Louisiana lawmakers approach it.

Source: Fox Business, "Florida Bill Would Limit Spousal Support, Will the Trend Spread?" Kate Rogers, April 24, 2013

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