Years ago, alimony or spousal support, was understood by most parties. When a marriage broke down due to the husband's fault and the wife had remained at home without a career, the wife needed life-long support. Today, there are very few long term marriages in which the wife does not work. The marriages of our parents or grandparents no longer exists.
The advent of no-fault divorces in the mid and late 1970's followed by the increase of women in the work force and the movement to pay men and women equal wages for equal work has changed the view of marriage and the basis for spousal support. Although Rhode Island allows life time alimony, it is rarely awarded. Rhode Island laws and courts accept the concept of rehabilitative alimony for a short and definitive period. In 2000, the R.I. Supreme Court stated that alimony is a rehabilitative tool intended to provide temporary support until a spouse is self-sufficient and is based purely on need.
The change in attitudes continues to redefine alimony. In September 2011, the Massachusetts Governor signed legislation ending alimony when the person paying it retires; it is limited to a number of years based upon the length of the marriage. Legislatures across the country are considering guidelines, similar to child support, to determine amounts of alimony. Several state supreme courts have recommended adoption of alimony guidelines. Pennsylvania has an actual guideline for temporary alimony situations.
The concept of alimony is changing with society's changes. One thing is certain, the future of alimony in Rhode Island is unclear. Further, because of the numerous factors that the Court uses to determine alimony and the potential tax treatment of alimony, you should contact Attorney Steven Hirsch as a mediator or divorce attorney for your divorce
Citing information from Family Advocate,Winter 2012, Vol. 34, No. 3, Current Trends in Alimony Law - Where Are We Now?, by Laura W. Morgan,