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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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The basics of spousal support

Spousal support (or "alimony" and "spousal maintenance") are payments by one spouse to the other to maintain their standard of living. These support payments are typically ordered during and after a divorce. A court sometimes orders it. However, couples can also agree beforehand on set rates for spousal support. This article will go over the basics of how spousal support is calculated.

Spousal support is ordered to limit the negative effects of a bad divorce. The logic is, if one spouse sacrificed their professional advancement for the benefit of the family, then that spouse should not be economically punished for that decision in a divorce. Spousal support compels the wage-earning spouse to support the non-wage-earning spouse for a specific duration of time until the non-earning spouse can secure other means of support.

Alimony, unlike child support, is subject to broad discretion by the court and the spouses. The spouses can choose to determine their own guidelines for issuing support or can decide to remove support entirely. But, the court will typically consider these following factors:

  • The duration of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the longer support will be ordered.
  • The ability of the paying spouse to make payments.
  • How much time the receiving spouse will reasonably require to become self-sufficient. The court considers a variety of factors, including education, work history and physical ability to work.
  • Finally, the court takes into account the standard of living of the couple before divorce. The point of the support payments it to ensure that the dependent spouse continues to live at the standard of living to which he or she is accustomed.

If you are considering divorce, then you may want to speak to a family law lawyer. Divorce cases implicate a wide range of issues, including your financial stability. An attorney can go over these possible outcomes and risks and help prepare you for life after marriage.

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