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Spousal maintenance, or alimony, refers to payments made from the future earnings of one spouse for the support of the other spouse after a divorce.  It is based upon the needs of the spouse seeking maintenance and the ability of the other spouse to pay while still meeting his or her own needs, given the marital standard of living.

There is no set "formula" for determining maintenance, nor is there a "magic" number of years of marriage that require maintenance to be provided, however it is rare for maintenance to be awarded in short-term marriages (those lasting less than seven or eight years).

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