Divorce can be an overwhelming and painful process. On top of emotional upheaval, those going through divorce may also face financial uncertainty.
If one spouse has significantly less earning power, the lower-earning spouse often asks how to protect their financial security following divorce.
Traditionally known as alimony, spousal support involves payments from a higher-earning spouse to provide financial support to a lower-earning spouse.
For example, assume Spouse A left college early to raise the couple’s children while Spouse B pursued an advanced degree and lucrative career opportunities. By helping increase Spouse B’s earning potential, Spouse A missed out on education and career opportunities, thereby lowering Spouse A’s earning potential.
In this scenario, a court would likely award spousal support to Spouse A.
How courts determine spousal support
In determining the proper spousal support award, courts may consider the health and financial condition of each party, the ability of each spouse to support themselves, the length of the marriage and the standard of living during the marriage.
Courts may also consider how the spouses divided marital property and any other factor relevant to providing financial security to both spouses.
Courts ordinarily award spousal support for a temporary period, such as the time needed for a spouse to pursue job training. But in some cases, a court may award permanent spousal support, such as when spouses were married for a long time and one spouse lacks the ability to support themselves.
The importance of advocacy
Ultimately, a judge will weigh the facts to determine whether spousal support is needed and, if so, the proper amount and duration of support. For this reason, it is important that parties advocate for themselves and present evidence relevant to the supposal support determination.
Whether you would be seeking or potentially paying spousal support, an experienced attorney can help with all aspects of a divorce, including the important issue of spousal support.