Does a Woman Have to Be Married to Collect Alimony?

Traditionally, the courts ordered alimony for a married woman. However, as the roles of women changed over the years from domesticity to the workforce, courts started ordering the wife to pay alimony to the husband. Not only did the traditional roles of husband and wife change, but also the family unit. Many times, unmarried couples live together as if they are married -- this makes it difficult to get the court to order alimony, but not impossible.

Different Laws

State law varies on whether a woman must be married to collect alimony, but generally, it is only for married people. The court orders alimony -- or spousal support -- for long-term marriages when the woman stays home to take care of the children and the home. Spousal support may mandatory under other circumstances in a short-term marriage or in a situation where the parties live together for a long time.


For the court to order alimony for an unmarried couple, the situation must meet certain circumstances. The couple must have children and lived together for many years. If one or more of the children has some type of disability, the court may also consider some form of spousal support if the mother has custody of the children, since it may be difficult for her to work if a child has a disability.

Long-Term Relationship

Different states have different rules for awarding alimony in a marriage. One of the rules in many states, including Florida, is that the parties must have a long-term relationship. This could be anywhere from 10 years or more. If two people live together for longer than 10 years and the man never worked, but instead, stayed home and took care of the couple’s children, he may convince the court to order additional support. In other states, a couple living together for more than five years is considered a common law marriage and may allow for alimony payments for the person with little to no income.


When you file for any type of support, including a domestic violence injunction, you should always ask for support for yourself, as you cannot go back and ask the court to order it if you do not ask for it in the initial petition. If you can show extraordinary circumstances as to why you should receive alimony or spousal support, even though you are not married, the court may order some sort of support.