Many decisions are made during the divorce process: how assets are split, custody of children, child support, and alimony. Depending on the situations, one of the former spouses may be awarded alimony or spousal support by the court. This decision may be made as part of an agreement between the couple or by the court itself. There are varying factors that go into the decision, including assets and state rules.
What Is Spousal Support?
Spousal support, or alimony payments, are periodic, predetermined payments awarded to a spouse or former spouse following a separation or divorce. They are legally mandated payments in order for one former spouse to support the lifestyle of the other. They are typically issued by the court when one of the former spouses earns a higher income than the other.
Spousal support payments may be temporarily rewarded to a spouse while a divorce is pending or it could be made a permanent part of a divorce decree. It acts as a way to equalize a divorcing couple’s financial resources. It is generally awarded in cases where the couple was married for a long time and there is unequal earning power between the spouses. Some state laws prohibit former spouses from being awarded alimony unless they have been married for a certain amount of time.
These payments are separate from child support, as child support payments can only be used toward minor children’s expenses while they are in the care of the custodial parent.
Spousal support payment structures and requirements are outlined in a court order or legal decree. Each state has laws that dictate how alimony is decided upon. In setting the amount of the payments, courts look at the following factors:
- Each spouse’s employment situation and income.
- The reasonable cost of expenses for each spouse.
- How assets were divided in the divorce proceedings.
- The length of the marriage.
- If alimony would make it possible for the former spouses to have a lifestyle similar to what they had before they split. This is known as “the standard of living established during the marriage.”
- The age of each spouse.
In certain situations, the amount and duration of spousal support received may be modified. For instance, if the spouse who receives alimony support experiences an increase in their cost of living, they may request the payment to be increased. Or if the spouse making the payments loses their job, they may ask to have their payment amount reduced.
Learn More About Spousal Support
At Simon Law Group, PLLC, we are here to support you through the entire divorce process. We can answer all of your questions regarding spousal support. Contact us today to learn more.