In 2004, Parade Magazine reported that a typical American divorce costs $20,000-$50,000 in attorney fees! You can be sure that the cost is much higher today! Another, more recent article, reported that the average cost of a litigated divorce in California averages $45,000 for each party. Most of these costs are attorney fees, and in litigated divorces, attorney costs rise rapidly, and continue for a long time.
Mary and William have been divorced for 2 years. They have one child, Donna, who is 8 years old. Their divorce was a hotly contested one that took almost 2 years to finalize. During that time they had been to court on various motions all related to their daughter Donna, who lived with Mary. The disputes ranged from how much time William would have with Donna, to what school she would go to, what summer camp she would go to, what extracurricular activities she would be enrolled in, and how all of those things would be paid for. Both parents lived in Bergen County, New Jersey, close to the George Washington Bridge.
Originally, Alimony (sometimes called “maintenance” or “spousal support”) was designed for a system where the husband’s role was to support his wife. If a couple divorced, the husband continued to be responsible for supporting his ex-wife financially until she remarried.
In modern times, the purpose of alimony is to allow the recipient (usually the wife) to maintain financial independence and, if possible, to maintain a lifestyle similar to the lifestyle that she enjoyed during the marriage.
There are a number of types of alimony, designed for particular circumstances.
Ben and Clare were married for 18 years. Their daughter, a high school student, was 17 years old. Ben was a contractor who had made quite a good living until two years ago when the economy tanked. Before that Clare had occasional part time jobs and she volunteered for several charities. The glue that held this marriage together was Ben’s ability to support the family. When that started unraveling, so did the marriage.