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Alimony vs Palimony: A Comparative Overview

While most people are aware of what alimony is, fewer may be aware of what palimony entails. Alimony and palimony are similar, but alimony is a court ordered payment that a spouse pays another spouse as part of a divorce settlement, whereas palimony is basically alimony that’s paid to a cohabiting partner when the relationship ends. It’s important to note, however, that in some states palimony is not recognized. Here’s a more in-depth look at alimony and palimony.

Determining Alimony

When judges determine alimony, they take into consideration a variety of different factors. Not only is the need of the requesting spouse taken into consideration, but the ability of the paying spouse to cover what the requesting spouse is asking for. These are key factors that will affect the judges decision:

  • What financial resources are available to both spouses;
  • The standard of living that both spouses had when living together;
  • The length of the marriage;
  • The earning potential, educational background, and skill-set of each spouse;
  • The age of each spouse;
  • The financial contribution of each spouse during the marriage;
  • The physical and mental state of each spouse;
  • How alimony will affect taxes.

There may be other relevant factors that the judge takes into consideration in order to make a fair alimony award. A good divorce lawyer will make sure all of these factors have evidence that supports your case.

Types Of Alimony

Alimony does not always take the same form. Temporary alimony is required to help the requesting spouse during the divorce process. It doesn’t extend beyond the finalization of the divorce. Bridge the gap alimony is meant to help the requesting spouse meet more immediate needs while they look for a job or get back on their feet. This type of alimony can’t last longer than two years. Rehabilitative alimony is intended to last while the requesting spouse completes the education or training needed to support themselves, while durational alimony lasts for as long as the marriage did. Permanent periodic alimony is paid to a spouse whose economic situation is unlikely to change, in order to help them maintain a similar standard of living as when they were married. Lump sum alimony may be used to pay for any of the other types of alimony, but is paid as one lump sum at a single time.


Alimony can only be paid to legally married couples who have filed for divorce. Palimony can be awarded in instances of common law marriage, if the state recognizes this practice. Palimony will be determined in a similar way to alimony. If the state does not recognize palimony or common law marriages, a judge will still uphold a formal written agreement of support between two cohabiting partners. A cohabitation agreement can protect you if you’re not legally married but are dependent upon your cohabiting partner.

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