If your spouse makes significantly more than you do and you have been married for a number of years, you may be entitled to alimony according to Nolo. Alimony is generally not awarded to those who were only married a short time or if the salaries earned were close to the same.
If you are awarded alimony, you generally receive a specified amount, and the alimony ends when you remarry, your children no longer need a full-time parent at home to care for them, a judge determines you have not made a sufficient effort to become partially self-supporting after a reasonable length of time, or by a predetermined date, states Nolo. Alimony may also end if your former spouse retires, or the amount may change after retirement or until you or your former spouse dies. If you are never able to become self-supporting due to a disability, the payments are generally permanent, explains FindLaw.
While child support is mandated in most states and there are specific guidelines as to how much support is paid, there is more broad discretion when determining whether to award alimony, and for how long and how much is paid, says FindLaw. The courts generally consider a number of factors, including your age, physical condition and the standard of living you enjoyed while married.