When alimony is being determined, the factors vary greatly from state to state within the U.S. Some state statutes, including Texas, Montana, Kansas, Utah, Kentucky and Maine, give explicit guidelines to judges on the amount and/or duration of alimony.
In Texas, Mississippi and Tennessee for example, alimony is granted only in cases of marriage or civil union of ten years or longer and the payments are limited to three years unless there are special, extenuating circumstances. Furthermore, the amount of spousal support is limited to the lesser of $2,500 per month or 40% of the payee’s gross income.
Other states, including Massachusetts, California, Nevada and New York have relatively vague statutes. These simply list “factors” a judge should consider when determining the alimony payments. In these states, the determination of duration and amount of alimony is left to the discretion of the family court judges who must consider case law in each state.
In general, there are four types of spousal maintenance:
Temporary Alimony: The is where support is ordered when the parties are separated prior to divorce. This type of alimony is also called alimony pendente lite which is Latin meaning “pending the suit”.
Rehabilitative Alimony: This is the support given to a lesser earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work outside the home and become self-sufficient.
Permanent Alimony: Support paid to the lesser earning spouse until the death of the payor, the death of the recipient, or the remarriage of the recipient.
Reimbursement Alimony: Support given as a reimbursement for expenses incurred by a spouse during the marriage (like educational expenses).
Article Source: en.wikipedia.org