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Skokie and Libertyville

Some states considering laws to end lifetime alimony

Illinois residents may have mixed feelings about alimony, which was originally created to protect the female partner in a marriage in the event that she and her husband got a divorce. It was supposed to financially compensate her for giving up her earning power to care for the home and children while her husband pursued his career. Essentially, once a man was married, he was considered responsible for his erstwhile spouse until death.

However, more women now have their own careers and money. In light of these shifting gender roles, some people believe that alimony is an outdated concept that is no longer needed. For example, a professor who heads New Jersey's Alimony Reform states that he was shocked when he was ordered to pay alimony to his ex-wife for the rest of his life. She had earned her Ph.D. and obtained a job that earned as much as he did, but she quit her job to pursue her own psychology practice, and her salary fell. When they sought to get a divorce, the judge ordered the professor to pay her alimony even though she had a high earning potential.

The man speaks for many across the country pushing for alimony reform when he argues that lifetime alimony is not fair. He poses the question of what spouses who are paying alimony can do if their salary decreases; he or she must spend all of his or her assets. Current alimony reform movements in multiple states seek to reform alimony laws so that payees would no longer have to pay alimony when they reach the age of retirement.

Divorce attorneys may be able to assist spouses in negotiating divorce settlements with their exes. Not only may they assist them with alimony negotiations, but they may also assist them with issues such as division of property, child custody and child support.

Source: NPR, "Alimony Till Death Do Us Part? Nay, Say Some Ex-Spouses", Jennifer Ludden, May 28, 2013

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