Family law offers no answer to the question of why anyone should be forced to share income
with a former spouse. For over thirty years, commentators have struggled to explain why
alimony has survived the demise of coverture and the advent of no-fault divorce, but there is still
no consensus on a contemporary rationale for alimony. The broad discretion vested in judges to
determine alimony eligibility and quantification, together with the absence of a theory to guide
decision-making, has produced an alimony regime marked by unpredictability, uncertainty, and
confusion. The one thing that is predictable Once upon a time the rationale for alimony was easy
enough: at marriage a husband undertook a lifetime obligation to support his wife; alimony was
the judicial tool for enforcing this husbandly duty during any periods of spousal separation.
Contemporary visions of marriage and divorce are very different. Today, divorce is normatively
cast as the end of spousal ties, an opportunity for a fresh start and a clean break, no matter who
or what caused the marital breakdown. And marriage is no longer viewed as the union of a
dominant male and a dependent female, but rather as a partnership of equals. Can such
egalitarian visions yield a theory of alimony? Most modern reform theories focus primarily on
one of three interests: a bout alimony is that it is not likely to be awarded, a fact that is not
surprising in a society that applauds independence and self reliance. claimant’s expected gain; a
claimant’s loss; or a claimant’s contributions to the other spouse. These foci are familiar to any
student of contracts, for they suggest the three classic contract interests of expectation, reliance,
and restitution. 8 This section thus classifies reform theories into three categories: (1) Gain
Theory (emphasizing expected returns on marital investments) (2) Loss Theory (emphasizing
compensation for loss experienced at divorce) (3) Contribution Theory (emphasizing
reimbursement for marital. Alimony, in divorce law, compensation owed by one spouse to
the other for financial support after divorce. Alimony aims at support of the one spouse,
not punishment of the other. In some places, the term means simply a property
settlement irrespective of future support. Alimony has traditionally been granted from
husbands to wives but has occasionally been granted from wives to husbands. Alimony
obligations were first imposed by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Hebrews. The practice
helped to avoid feuds with the divorced wife’s relatives. Under the Code of Hammurabi,
a Mesopotamian husband divorcing his wife without cause had to forfeit a piece of
silver. Similarly, Roman law under Justinian I demanded a forfeiture of gold from the
guilty spouse in a divorce.
In England, alimony was purely a creation of statute—probably arising out of
the medieval church’s belief that divorce could not terminate the obligations
of marriage in the eyes of God. Scandinavian countries treat husband and wife as equals
in divorce suits, allowing reciprocal claims for injury. Some countries—e.g., Russia,
Austria, Belgium, and Romania—allow divorce as a normal cancellation of contract, with
financial questions being settled by mutual agreement.
Alimony is either temporary—for support and expenses during the lawsuit; or
permanent—for support thereafter. TemporaryWhen is it paid?
If the woman is earning: Even if the woman is working and there is a substantial
difference between her and her husband's net worth, she will still be granted alimony to
provide for the same living standards as her husband's.
If the woman’s not earning: Court will consider the woman’s age, her educational
qualifications, ability to earn to decide the amount of the alimony.
If there is a child:
alimony is designed to enable one party to initiate or defend the divorce suit. The
granting of temporary or permanent alimony is within the court’s discretion, as are the
frequency and amounts of payments.
If the husband is disabled: Husband is granted alimony only if he has some physical disability that
prevents him from earning and the wife is earning.
credit: ratna priya