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Why alimony began and how the need for it has changed

The original goal of alimony was to make husbands provide for their wives. Alimony can be traced back centuries, and, though it may sound odd to the modern reader, this was a time in which women did not have any job opportunities. The courts assumed men would provide for them, and if a marriage broke up, they knew women still had basic needs -- food, shelter and more -- that had to be met.

There was also a concern, noted in some historical documents, that women without this support would be a burden on the local community.

Alimony is still needed in some situations, but things have definitely changed. Women work frequently, and there's not the same biased assumption that they must have husbands to take care of them. There are laws in place to help both genders get equal opportunities in the workplace and both spouses now contribute.

Again, this doesn't mean alimony is never helpful. There are cases where one spouse gives up a career to help with the kids, for example, and needs support after a divorce because of that sacrifice. However, these one-sided work arrangements are no longer as common as they once were, and they're no longer as strongly tied to one gender. Husbands may be inclined to ask for alimony if their wives earn more than they do. The unfair, stereotypical gender bias has slowly faded.

It's important to understand the origins of alimony to know why it exists and how people's rights have changed over the years. Make sure you know what your rights are, and don't let any unfair biases stand in the way of a just court order.

Source: Huffington Post, "Is Alimony Still Necessary?," Kristen Houghton, accessed Jan. 26, 2017

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