Alimony awards, also called "spousal support," are usually granted at the court's discretion upon a determination, which takes into account certain factors, that spousal maintenance is necessary. Some of the factors considered when determining alimony payments include the education of the spouses, their respective work experiences, income histories, ages, health, the length of the marriage, and the time either spouse has spent out of the work force. Alimony may be either temporary (often called "rehabilitative alimony") or permanent. The court grants rehabilitative spousal support when one spouse has been disadvantaged in order to equalize the burden of the divorce.
States traditionally have considered condonation and reconciliation to be common law affirmative defenses to fault-based divorce actions. Under that scenario, the defendant was required to plead and prove the defense. In states that allow fault-based divorce and that have comprehensive divorce statutes, the general movement has been to limit or eliminate common law divorce defenses such as condonation and reconciliation.
Dischargeability of debt is one of the core principles in bankruptcy law, and it plays a large part in the "fresh start" for debtors. Discharge cancels debt and stops collection activity for the discharged debt. There are a variety of debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, including alimony and child support.
For purposes of divorce, "partition" is a legal process that divides property, usually real property, into fractional shares for the spouses. Divorce or legal separation establishes grounds for partition in a divorce for jointly-owned marital assets of the spouses.
Generally, divorce cases involving thorny property issues can be complicated to resolve. This especially is true when the marital estate includes a closely-held business. A closely-held business usually presents one of two scenarios in the divorce context. The business may be tied to one spouse who is responsible for the business's success. Distribution of the business to one spouse often creates asset allocation and business valuation issues. It presents the problem of valuing the business and structuring the parties' assets and liabilities in order to provide the other spouse with a comparably valued property distribution. If the business depends on the operating spouse's good will and management, which many closely-held businesses do, then the true value can suffer under the emotional stress common in divorce even if the business is distributed to the key-person spouse. A business having one value when operated by the key-person spouse can have a far different value when distributed to the non-operating spouse.