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The changing face of alimony

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Many divorcing couples wonder whether alimony will come into play in their divorce settlements. While it still figures into some divorce settlements, alimony - also called spousal support or maintenance - figures into far fewer settlements than it once did.

Only 10 percent of divorces include alimony awards these days, compared to 25 percent in the 1960s, according to Reuters. Although men are still the ones making alimony payments 97 percent of the time, in the '60s, no women at all were paying alimony. 

This changed with a 1979 Supreme Court ruling in Orr v. Orr. Now, women paying alimony are often the ones pushing hardest for alimony reform, Reuters reports.

Alimony laws are shifting in many states in various ways. Many states, for example, are moving away from allowing permanent alimony. Illinois recently took some of the guesswork out of alimony by establishing a standard formula for courts to use in calculating spousal support payments.

In Michigan, however, most aspects of alimony are still at the discretion of the court. Of course, that's only if one member of the divorcing party petitions the court for alimony. In practice, many divorcing couples can agree on a settlement - that may or may not include alimony - out of court, with the help of an attorney.

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