For many years, regardless of what you called it, a court could not order any form of permanent spousal support or alimony. The parties could agree on voluntary alimony and frequently did. One spouse might prefer to have a set income for a set number of years to having a larger property settlement.
In 1995, that changed and a court is now authorized to award "spousal maintenance" under certain circumstances. The parties had to have been married for at least ten years or there had to have been a conviction for family violence. Even then, the court could only order it if the receiving spouse had did not have sufficient income to support herself or himself and did not receive much property in the divorce. This maintenance was limited to no more than three years and could be no higher than 20% of the paying spouse's income or $2,500 per month, whichever was less. An award of spousal maintenance was not common.
Over the years, skilled family law attorneys learned how to argue for more maintenance and the awards became more common and larger.
The 2011 legislature recently passed a bill that would allow spousal maintenance to continue (1) for five years if the parties had been married for ten to twenty years or if there was family violence, (2) for seven years if they were married for 20 to 30 years, and (3) for 10 years if they were married for over 30 years.
Whether you are arguing for or against spousal maintenance, you want a skilled family law attorney guiding your way.