al·​i·​mo·​ny | \ˈa-lə-ˌmō-nē \
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

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 The drop is tied to a few things: the loss of cost-saving measures like splitting a mortgage bill; legal fees; and payments like alimony or child support. Kerri Anne Renzulli, Glamour, "Here's How Your Relationship Status Affects Your Bank Account," 18 Jan. 2018 In 2013, the mother of two of his children sued for outstanding alimony payments. Adam Williams, Billboard, "How a Netflix Series Revived the Career of Latin Pop Icon Luis Miguel," 10 July 2018 Child support is often calculated in tandem with alimony. Ben Steverman,, "Your prenup might be in jeopardy as tax overhaul kills alimony break," 23 May 2018 Beginning January 1, 2019, President Trump’s tax reform will eliminate the tax deduction for alimony payments. Brittany Shoot, Fortune, "Financial Planners Are Warning Wealthy Clients That Trump's Tax Reform Is Making Divorce Much More Expensive," 9 July 2018 John Schneider served five hours out of his three-day jail sentence for unpaid alimony on Tuesday. Sasha Savitsky, Fox News, "John Schneider speaks out after leaving jail, says 'there's a bias against conservatives' in Hollywood," 13 June 2018 Ultimately, the change could hurt alimony recipients. Ben Steverman,, "Your prenup might be in jeopardy as tax overhaul kills alimony break," 23 May 2018 Those that get alimony or child support from their ex-spouse or live with their parents are the lucky ones. Yoshiaki Nohara,, "In One of the World’s Richest Countries, Most Single Mothers Live in Poverty," 24 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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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 \

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 \

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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