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Alimony view: two-way street, imperfect concept

Depending on who you ask, alimony is either a necessary protection or an outdated condition of divorce. Alimony was originally designed to financially support spouses -- mostly women -- who exit a marriage with little-to-no personal income or earning prospects. As the earning divide between women and men shrinks, though, and women become the primary income earners in many families, there are growing clamors that the alimony system needs to be updated and, possibly, abandoned.

Alimony's history reaches all the way back into Babylonian times, and it has been enforced throughout the world in countries like England and, later, the United States. At the time, the concept was established on the premise that men held all assets and marital property, and their duty was to support a woman to prevent her from becoming a burden to the public.

Clearly, times have changed. With more women than ever established in the work force, many people in Florida and elsewhere wonder if alimony is anything more than an unnecessary form of punishment. Alternatives have been proposed, especially in regards to how to handle the child support taken on by each couple. For example, some suggest that one divorcing spouse making twice as much as the other should be expected to pay twice as much child support -- but not alimony.

Additionally, alimony remains a valued protection for families where one parent gives up a career to become a stay-at-home parent. And when alimony is upheld, many feel it needs to go both ways -- even though the majority of alimony recipients are women, men should have an equal opportunity to receive the same compensation for similar circumstances. In fact, that is increasingly becoming the case.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is alimony still necessary?" Kristen Houghton, May 31, 2012

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