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Differences Between Spouse Maintenance, Alimony VS Palimony

alimony vs palimony

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When a couple ends their relationship, spouse support is awarded to separated partners as a divorce settlement. Usually, people need clarification when using the term alimony and palimony. Alimony refers to the spousal support awarded by the court to married couples in terms of financial help when a marital relationship ends. While palimony is given to unmarried couples when cohabitating. This article will discuss the differences between spouse maintenance, alimony vs palimony.

Alimony is the amount one partner offers to another on the court order when a marriage ends. This is mandatory in British law and can be claimed after divorce. In California, it is claimed that a marriage lasts for a long time. However, if a marriage exists for more than five years and less than 17, it can be claimed, and the court orders the spouse to pay the money to another partner.

Alimony and its conditions

Alimony is legally awarded income to the divorced partner to fulfil their financial needs as a divorce settlement. It depends on various things; like

  • Annual gross income of couples
  • Their job categories
  • Educational rank
  • The living standers both persons were enjoying during their married life
  • Their recent needs like completing education for a job etc.
  • For how much time a couple married
  • Emotional and physical condition of the couple
  • Age of both partners

Types of Alimony

Alimony can be divided into the following categories depending on the case and its requirements. The court can decide the type of alimony to grant according to the situation and needs of the issues:

temporarypermanentRehabilitativeLump-sumBridge the Gap
Less than two yearspermanentTill the education or training completesGiven only one time when the divorce finalisedShort-term but not more than two years


Temporary Alimony payment is paid only temporarily until the division of assets and property is finalised during the divorce process.


This category is obliged when the spouse’s needs are permanent and to maintain a prior lifestyle with dependents like children.


Rehabilitative alimony is granted when a spouse struggles to set himself as “self-supported” while getting an education or training. One spouse is pledged to pay another spouse until they complete the training or studies.


According to this category, one spouse pays alimony payment, a handsome amount, one time only when the divorce case is finalised. So, he may not bear it monthly or yearly.

Bridge the Gap

Bridge, the Gap alimony, is not awarded for more than two years. It’s only a short-term Financial help for the receiving spouse to maintain daily needs.Mentioned above are only generally discussed categories. But only the court can take legal action and pursue the orders according to the case and its complications.

Alimony VS Palimony

Palimony is the recently introduced term in California. When a couple spends their life as husband and wife for years but legally does not marries is categorized as in “civil relationship.” When a “civil relationship” ends, the court can order to pay the palimony to the other partner. You can only claim palimony when you have

  • Any proof of spending years in civil-relationship
  • Documents of shared property
  • Written agreement, if any
  • Any joint account or purchased shares

Note that alimony is only awarded when a married couple gets a divorce and claims any financial support. At the same time, palimony is only paid to an unmarried partner for cohabitation.


We can end the debate as a nut in a shell; the differences between spouse maintenance, alimony vs palimony are based on only one thing to note; Alimony is the paid amount on the court order only to the married couple. In contrast, palimony is given only when you are not married but cohabiting.

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