The Wall Street Journal reports about a national trend whereby states are reviewing alimony statutes with a goal of reducing long term alimony benefits for spouses. Last year's radical overhaul of the Massachusetts alimony statute is a leading example of this attempt to curtail what many perceive as an antiquated and paternalist view of spousal support. Originally alimony was based on the premise that a wife was due long term support from her husband. As gender roles began to change in the 70's, alimony became less common as women entered the work force.
In Rhode Island, the trend over the last several decades alimony has been to limit support to economic rehabilitation, i.e. helping, usually a spouse, obtain the skills necessary to get back into the job market. Although there are still decisions which award alimony to a spouse who will not be rehabilitated economically due to age, disability, or other reasons, they are few and far between. One of the most recent Rhode Island Supreme Court alimony decisions reaffirmed that alimony in Rhode Island is largely only allowed for a short fix period of time to enable a spouse to become economically rehabilitated. In the appropriate circumstances, long term spousal support may be appropriate.