Turkey plans to end 'indefinite alimony' system for divorced couples, pay support

After two years of deliberation, the Turkish parliament is expected to vote on a change to the alimony system in its new term beginning on Jan. 6, 2022. If passed, the reform will put an end to “indefinite alimony” payments and the state will pay support after a given point.

Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR 

After two years of deliberation, the Turkish parliament is expected to vote on an alimony reform package that would put an end to the system of “indefinite alimony” when it returns from recess on Jan. 6, 2022.

In the current alimony system in Turkey, whoever will “fall into poverty” after a divorce is to receive payment from the wealthier party in the relationship. In recent years, however, many have opposed this system due to the fact that it is “indefinite.” The system as it exists does not indicate an end time for these payments.

Women’s rights groups have argued that this system - in making the individual pay alimony - can lead to the victimization of women. Often, women are the party left in “poverty” and the leverage of alimony can lead to their abuse and violence perpetrated against them.

Further, other groups argue that indefinite alimony imposes an undue financial burden on the wealthier party, whether female or male.

These groups are calling for the state to pay alimony. 

So far, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Family Services have held meetings with various sectors and groups to discuss this issue, but no agreement has been reached. The Ministry of Justice says it is working to develop a system that does not victimize women. They also say they have carried out a study looking into the effect of alimony payments and how the system might be alternatively implemented. 

The Ministry of Justice says that no divorced spouse will be left without alimony under its plan. The party that has to pay alimony will do so for a set period of time – say, 10 years. At the end of this period of time, if the less wealthy spouse is still not working and needs support, the state will pay alimony through social security mechanisms. They emphasize that such a system could contribute to a reduction in violence against women in reducing leverage in conflicts such as those over child custody.

The Ministry expects to finalize this measure in its next term. They are also discussing a system to mediate divorces that will prevent violence. 

(English version by Erin O'Brien)