Alimony is court ordered spousal support, imposed on the party in a divorce or legal separation case who has the higher income. While alimony is fairly common, it is not automatic or universal. The court will have wide discretion in determining, based on the details of each case, whether or not to impose alimony and, if so, in what amount and for what duration.
Factors involved in determinations of alimony include: the standard of living during the marriage and of each party following the divorce, the duration of the marriage, the amount of money/property already going to the supported spouse when "community property" is divided, and how long it will take the supported party to readjust to single life.
Usually, alimony is not permanent, but may last for a number of years. However, the duration will depend largely on the total length of time the couple were married. To learn more about this topic, see the section on "Spousal Support" further down on this home page.