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Robert Gradel Law Blog

robertgradel by robertgradel @
What Alimony Looks like in the Other 49 States:
"At last, the checkbook is in the other hand, exulted more than a few men upon the news that "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden was ordered to pay $18,000 a month in temporary alimony to her husband. It was sexual equality at its sweetest." Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1992

"The $80,000-a-month alimony request by the former husband of "Dynasty" star Joan Collins was thrown out of court today by a judge who said Peter Holm was "playing games" with the judicial system." The Associated Press, October 7, 1987

"Although there are differences of opinion as to whether or not a court can award term alimony, there is no disagreement that a court has the authority to avail itself of the following three alimony remedies: * Permanent Alimony: This is the most traditional form of alimony and is customarily awarded to dependent spouses getting divorced after lengthy marriages, who will continue experiencing earning disparity with their spouses. * Rehabilitative Alimony: This type of alimony has been defined as support, of a limited, usually short, duration, paid so the recipient can obtain vocational skills, secure employment, and become self-supporting. * Reimbursement Alimony: This type of alimony was introduced into divorce proceedings by our state Supreme Court as a means of compensating a spouse who has endured a lower standard of living or suffered an economic reduction in standard of living as a result of his or her contributions toward the other spouse's obtainment of a professional degree or license." New Jersey Law Journal, July 25, 1991.

"The "de facto" marriage of Lt. Gov. Win Paul Rockefeller's first wife to another man does not negate Rockefeller's obligation to pay alimony, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court's unanimous decision culminates the billionaire constitutional officer's six-year court fight to cut off payments of more than $ 25,000 a month to Deborah Cluett Sage Rockefeller." November 19, 1998, Associated Press.

"Historically, Pennsylvania has had no such thing as alimony except in rare cases when an ex-wife was deemed to be insane. In these cases, former husbands provided support as a way to protect the taxpayers from having to do so. Not surprisingly, wives had no corresponding duty to support insane ex-husbands. The only other state never permitting alimony was Texas. But in Texas, where they had "community property" laws, a dependent spouse who couldn't get alimony had a right to half of the assets. No such right existed in Pennsylvania. Here, whoever held title to the item owned it. Not you? Too bad... Now that alimony is out there as a possibility for the sane as well as the insane and men and women, important questions arise, such as who ought to get it, why, how much and for how long. There are no boilerplate answers... The divorce law says only to provide a "reasonable" amount for as long as alimony is "necessary." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania) December 20, 2001.

Since it took the Supreme Court of the United States to force fathers in Texas to pay child support for their children born out of wedlock, it should not be surprising that Texas was the last state in the nation to pass an alimony statute. The first version of the statue was very limited. The purpose is to keep women off welfare by allowing judges to make the former spouse kick in enough to prevent her and the kids from qualifying for benefits. The current version revised effective September 1, 2011, is a significant improvement, but still no where near the other 49 states.
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