al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \
plural alimonies

Definition of alimony

1 : an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce
2 : the means of living : maintenance

Examples of alimony in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But in June, Schneider was sentenced to three days behind bars in the Los Angeles County Jail in June for failure to pay more than $150,000 in owed alimony payments to Elvira. Jodi Guglielmi,, "John Schneider Marries Girlfriend Alicia Allain 'Before God' amid Ongoing Divorce," 3 July 2019 Since then, more than 400 filings have been entered as the couple tried to settle matters of child custody and visitation, alimony and child support. Doha Madani, NBC News, "Fotis Dulos, husband of missing Connecticut mother, fiercely defends his innocence," 2 July 2019 Voters may also decide whether to ease the state’s restriction on local rent control and whether to impose a five-year limit on alimony payments. Bob Egelko,, "California’s high court walks high wire on initiatives, 2 ex-justices say," 23 June 2019 According to Chemtob, alimony payments are determined by income, with the spouse who makes more money paying the spouse who makes less. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Your Divorce Glossary: A-to-Z Terms You Need to Know," 26 Nov. 2018 Child support can't be taxed or deducted, but alimony would count as income for me. Ellie Delano, Woman's Day, "Death (Of A Marriage) And Taxes," 26 Jan. 2011 Also called alimony or spousal maintenance. Stipulation. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Your Divorce Glossary: A-to-Z Terms You Need to Know," 26 Nov. 2018 John Schneider asks court to restore jail sentence for unpaid alimony after being released early. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: Mass shooting stuns Toronto, too early to determine if it's terror; Trump warns Iran," 23 July 2018 This includes alimony, capital gains, state-tax refunds, rental income and deductions for educator expenses, student loan interest and IRA deductions. Kathleen Pender,, "Is new 1040 tax form deceptively simple or just deceptive?," 29 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'alimony.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of alimony

circa 1613, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for alimony

Latin alimonia sustenance, from alere

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Statistics for alimony

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for alimony

The first known use of alimony was circa 1613

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More Definitions for alimony



Financial Definition of alimony

What It Is

Alimony is a series of payments made to an ex-spouse or separated spouse according to a divorce decree or separation agreement.

How It Works

Also known as "spousal support," the idea behind alimony is to provide a spouse with lower income or lower income potential with financial support. It is not the same as child support.

In general, a spouse must have been financially dependent on the other spouse for most of the marriage to receive alimony. The calculations and standard amounts vary by state, but each party's ability to earn money, the length of the marriage, the conduct of the parties, and health and age all affect the amount.

Alimony payments are usually made monthly. For tax purposes, noncash payments and voluntary extra payments do not count as alimony. However, payments to a third party on behalf of the ex- or separated spouse sometimes qualify as alimony (medical expenses, housing costs, tuition, etc.), however.

Why It Matters

From a financial perspective, alimony matters because it has significant tax consequences for both the payer and the receiver. Most notably, alimony is tax-deductible for the payer and taxable for the payee. Because of this tax deduction (and the resulting temptation to mask all payments to an ex as alimony), the IRS applies two tests to ensure that the payments are not really child support or property settlement payments (which are not deductible). For this reason, alimony payments should be explicitly described in the divorce decree or separation agreement, and they must be labeled as alimony. Otherwise, the IRS may tax child support as alimony.

Also, alimony payments to an ex- or separated spouse typically only count as alimony for tax purposes in years when the parties did not file a joint tax return or live in the same dwelling. If alimony payments decrease or terminate during the first three years, filers may be able to recapture the taxes paid (and deductions claimed) under the IRS's recapture rule. In any case, both the alimony payer and alimony payee must file an IRS Form 1040 rather than a 1040A or 1040EZ if alimony is involved.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of alimony

: money that a court orders someone to pay regularly to a former wife or husband after a divorce


al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \

Kids Definition of alimony

: money for living expenses paid regularly by one spouse to another after their legal separation or divorce

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al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē How to pronounce alimony (audio) \

Legal Definition of alimony

1 : an allowance made to one spouse by the other for support pending or after legal separation or divorce — compare child support
alimony in gross
: lump sum alimony in this entry
alimony pendente lite \ -​pen-​ˈden-​tē-​ˈlī-​ˌtē, -​pen-​ˈden-​tā-​ˈlē-​tā \
: alimony granted pending a suit for divorce or separation that includes a reasonable allowance for the prosecution of the suit

called also temporary alimony

lump sum alimony
: alimony awarded after divorce that is a specific vested amount not subject to change

called also alimony in gross

permanent alimony
: alimony awarded after divorce which consists of payments at regular intervals that may change in amount or terminate (as upon the payee's remarriage)
temporary alimony
: alimony pendente lite in this entry
2 : means of living, support, or maintenance fathers and mothers owe alimony to their illegitimate childrenLouisiana Civil Code

History and Etymology for alimony

Latin alimonia sustenance, from alere to nourish

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More from Merriam-Webster on alimony

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with alimony

Spanish Central: Translation of alimony

Nglish: Translation of alimony for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of alimony for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about alimony

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