What is Alimony?

Legal Definition
Alimony (also called aliment (Scotland), maintenance (England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Canada), spousal support (U.S., Canada) and spousal maintenance (Australia)) is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after marital separation or divorce. The obligation arises from the divorce law or family law of each country. Traditionally, alimony was paid by a husband to his former wife, but since the 1970s there have been moves in many countries towards gender equality with a corresponding recognition that a former husband may also be entitled to alimony from his former wife.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
When a marriage ends in divorce, one spouse may receive monetary support from the other. Oftentimes, the receiving spouse must be unable to support themselves without the help of their ex-spouse. Depending on the state, support may be based on a series of factors, such as the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, degrees earned (if any) etc. Payments may be in one lumps sum, or in a series of monthly payments. Duration of alimony is often based on the length of the marriage; in other words, the longer the marriage, the longer the duration of alimony payments.
Legal Definition
The maintenance or support which a husband is bound to give to his wife upon separation from her; or the support which either father or mother is bound to give to his or her children, though this is more usually called maintenance.

2. The causes for granting alimony to the wife are, 1, desertion, (q. v.) or cruelty of the husband; (q. v.) 4 Desaus. R. 79,; 1 M'Cord's Ch. R. 205; 4 Rand. R. 662; 2 J. J; Marsh. R. 324.; 1 Edw. R. 62; and 2, divorce. 4 Litt. R. 252; 1 Edw. R. 382; 2 Paige, R. 62; 2 Binn. R. 202; 3 Yeates, R. 50; S.& R. 248; 9 S.& R. 191; 3 John. Ch. R. 519; 6 John. Ch. 91.

3. In Louisiana by alimony is meant the nourishment, lodging and support of the person who claims it. It includes education when the person to whom alimoiay is due is a minor. Civil Code of L. 246.

4. Alimony is granted in proporion to the wants of the person requiring it, and the circumstances of those who are to pay it. By the common law, parents and children owe each other alimony. 1 Bl. Com. 447; 2 Com. Dig. 498;. 3 Ves. 358; 4 Vin. Ab. 175; Ayl. Parerg. 58; Dane's Ab. Index. h.t.; Dig. 34, 1. 6.

5. Alimony is allowed to the wife, pendente lite, almost as a matter of course whether she be plaintiff or defendant, for the obvious reason that she has generally no other means of living. 1 Clarke's R. 151. But there are special cases where it will not be allowed, as when the wife, pending the progress of the suit, went to her father's, who agreed with the husband to support her for services. 1 Clarke's R. 460. See Shelf. on Mar. and Div. 586; 2 Toull. n. 612.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The allowance made to a wife out of her husband's estate for her suit-port, either during a matrimonial suit or at its termination, when she proves herself entitled to a separate maintenance, and the fact of a marriage ls established. Alimony is an allowance out of the husband's estate, made for the support of the wife when living separate from him. It is either temporary or permanent. Code Ga. 1882, ยง 1736.

The allowance which is made by order of court to a woman for her support out of her husband's estate, upon being separated from him by divorce, or pending a suit for divorce. Pub. St. Mass. 1882, p. 1287. And see Bowman v. Worthington, 24 Ark. 522; Lynde v. Lynde, 64 N. J. Eq. 736, 52 Atl. 694, 58 L. R. A. 471, 97 Am. St. Rep. 692; Collins v. Collins, 80 N. Y. 1; Stearns v. Stearns, 66 Vt. 187, 28 Atl. 875, 44 Am. St Rep. 836; In re Spencer, 83 Cal. 460, 23 Pac. 395, 17 Am. St. Rep. 266; Adams v. Storey, 135 111. 448, 26 N. E. 582. 11 L R. A. 790, 25 Am. St Rep. 392.

By alimony we understand what is necessary for the nourishment, lodging, and support of the person who claims it. It includes education, when the person to whom the alimony is due is a minor. Civil Code La. art. 230. The term is commonly used as equally applicable to all allowances, whether annual or in gross, made to a wife upon a decree in divorce. Burrows v. Purple, 107 Mass. 432.

Alimony pendentelite is that ordered during the pendency of a suit Permanent alimony. A provision for the support and maintenance of a wife out of her husband's estate, during her life time, ordered by a court on decreeing a divorce. Odom v. Odom, 36 Ga. 320; In re Spencer, 83 Cal. 460, 23 Pac. 395, 17 Am. St Rep. 266.

The award of alimony is essentially a different thing from a division of the property of the parties. Johnson v. Johnson, 57 Kan. 343, 46 Pac. 700. It is not in Itself an "estate" in the technical sense, and therefore not the separate property or estate of the wife. Cizek v. Cizek, 69 Neb. 797, 99 N. W. 28; Guenther v. Jacobs, 44 Wis. 354; Romaine v. Chauncey, 60 Hun, 477, 15 N. Y. Supp. 198; Lynde v. Lynde, 64 N. J. Eq. 736, 52 Atl. 694, 58 In R. A. 471, 97 Am. St. Rep. 692; Holbrook v. Comstock, 16 Gray (Mass ) 109.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
A sum ordered by the court to be paid to a wife by the husband for her support during the time she lives separate from him, or paid by him after divorce for her maintenance. See 34 L. R. A. 110; also 25 Am. St. Rep. 392.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary