Alimony is the periodic payment made for the support and maintenance of a spouse and may be awarded upon a limited or an absolute divorce. Alimony may be awarded to either party, regardless of gender, and is awarded for a definite or indefinite period of time. Alimony awarded for a definite period of time is commonly referred to as "rehabilitative alimony"; alimony for an indefinite period of time is commonly referred to as "permanent alimony". An award of alimony is not an automatic entitlement but, rather, is determined on a case-by-case basis upon its own set of facts. The concept of alimony as a lifetime pension enabling a spouse to maintain an accustomed standard of living has generally been replaced by the concept that a spouse should be required, through rehabilitation, to become self-supporting, even if the result is a reduced standard of living.
A court is required to consider many factors in determining whether to award alimony and, if awarded, the amount and duration. Some of these factors include the financial needs and resources of each party; the age, physical and mental condition of each party; the ability of the party seeking alimony to be self-supporting; and, the facts and circumstances that contributed to separation.
“Alimony pendente lite” is a temporary award of alimony by a court for the support of a spouse while a limited or absolute divorce is still pending. An award of alimony pendente lite is based solely on the recipient spouse's immediate support needs, independent of marital fault, until a divorce is granted. The purpose of alimony pendente lite is to maintain the status quo between the parties so that a dependent spouse will not suffer financial hardship during the divorce litigation.