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Alimony till death
Nov 11, 2021
Season 5 | Episode 5

Alimony till death

When Sonia Delgado divorced her husband after 30 years of a bad marriage, she thought she'd finally seized financial freedom. Instead, she faced a lifetime of alimony.

Imagine finding that your life is in your own hands for the first time … when you’re in your early 40s.

That’s how Sonia Delgado felt after she told her husband she wanted a divorce. She’d been fantasizing about the moment for a long time; over the course of their 30-year marriage, her husband had been the default “money boss.” But they constantly argued about how he managed money. He struggled with poor credit and they were chronically in debt, at times having to rely on relatives and government assistance for financial support.

In the final years of the marriage, Delgado had become the main breadwinner, working as a high school teacher. She wanted to separate her money — and her life — from his. As she drove away from her house after telling her husband he would be receiving divorce papers, Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” was playing on the radio.

“I cannot explain it,” she said. “It was just like a spirit of happiness was filling me and I was starting to feel so healthy.”

But the exhilaration would be short-lived. Once Delgado and her lawyer started negotiating the divorce, Delgado found out her ex-husband wanted alimony, and he wanted it forever. Alimony is money paid to an ex-spouse after a divorce. Most divorces don’t involve alimony at all. But if you make more money than your spouse, like Delgado did, you can be legally obligated to support him or her financially for some period of time. In a few states, like Florida, where Delgado lives, you can be obligated to pay it permanently.

Her ex wanted an initial sum of $600 a month. At the time, it amounted to nearly a third of Delgado’s take-home pay.

On this week’s show, we’ll hear Delgado’s story, learn the history of alimony and unpack how it became such a fraught political issue for so many Americans.

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The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Senior Producer
Phoebe Unterman Producer
Marielle Segarra Producer
Camila Kerwin Producer
Serena Chow Intern
Marque Greene Producer

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