The evolution of alimony can be seen in its ever-changing name; spousal support or maintenance. The purpose of alimony continues to evolve and, therefore, its purposes continually changes. The modern trend has been for states to adopt guidelines, like Michigan. The courts use these guidelines to calculate fair and equitable alimony payments. However, the point and purpose of alimony seems to be reinvented every few years.
In the beginning, alimony had a clear purpose. Back in the olden days, divorce could only be obtained if there was fault, like cheating or abandonment by the husband. In this era, few women worked outside the home and many times could not work. So, alimony was created to ensure that the victims, the wives, were not left to starve after their husband imploded their marriage.
This situation is no longer true. The modern marriage in which one spouse is completely and totally dependent on the other for support and survival is becoming less and less common. So alimony evolved and became "spousal support." At first, judges and legislators tried to determine through law how best to determine if a spouse could support him or herself. The courts relied on an imperfect system which assumed that any spouse that is healthy is capable of work and, therefore, alimony payments were severely curtailed.
The latest iteration has been to rely on guidelines to assess a variety of factors to determine the earning potential of the dependent spouse. For example, health, age, education and work history are now all considered in awarding alimony. These factors are unique based upon the state in which you live. An attorney can go over the specifics with you as they may apply to your situation.
If you are going through a divorce, then you may want to speak to a family law attorney. As you can see, family law is continually reinvented with new purposes, guidelines, laws and goals. An attorney can help you stay up to date with these changes so that your rights are competently represented. Spousal support is no longer an automatic guarantee, but it is a possibility. An attorney can go over your situation and help you prepare your best arguments.