Alimony, in the law of divorce, is compensation owed to one’s spouse for financial support after a divorce. Alimony aims to support the spouse, not to punish the other. In some places, the word means suspension of assets regardless of future support. Alimony is traditionally given from men to women but sometimes given from women to men.

Bonds of alonyony were first placed by the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Hebrews. This practice has helped to avoid conflicts with relatives of a divorced woman. Under the Code of Hammurabi, a Mesopotamian man who divorced his wife for no apparent reason had to throw away a silver piece. Similarly, Roman law under Justinian I required that gold be confiscated from a guilty partner in divorce.

In England, maintenance was the only thing that was created – probably from an ancient church belief that divorce could not end marriage bonds in God’s eyes. Scandinavian countries treat men and women as equals in divorce churches, allowing repeated claims of injury. Some countries – e.g., Russia, Austria, Belgium and Romania – allow divorce as a standard cancellation of the contract, financial questions are resolved amicably.

Alimony can be temporary – support and costs at the time of litigation; or permanent – support after that. Temporary maintenance is designed to give one party the opportunity to establish or defend a divorce claim. The provision of temporary or permanent maintenance is within the scope of the court, such as the frequency and amount of payments.

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