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Spousal support: An important support for a lesser-earning spouse

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2019 | Firm News

Spousal support is an important support for some spouses going through divorce. For many people, spousal support is the difference between being able to afford to take time to find a job or having to rely on others. The goal of spousal support is to provide support to a lesser-earning spouse until they’re able to be gainfully employed or until their financial situation improves.

Temporary or permanent spousal support orders are possible. Either one may be granted if the court finds that the spouse does not have enough property to provide for their reasonable needs or is unable to support themselves in line with the standard of living that was established during marriage.

How does the court decide how much spousal support to award?

The court has to look at a number of factors before deciding if spousal support should be awarded. The factors might include:

  • How long it will take for a spouse to acquire education or training to obtain appropriate employment
  • The standard of living established during the marriage
  • The lost earnings, retirement benefits, and employment opportunities of the spouse who is seeking support
  • The contribution of each spouse toward marital assets and their time together

In most cases, the court will award a temporary spousal support order. This is typically set up for a fixed time frame. For example, if it will take you four years to complete a college course, then the court may approve spousal support for that time.

Permanent alimony is less common, but it may be more likely to be granted in cases of long-term marriages. Couples who have been together for 30 or 40 years, for example, may be reliant on one another financially, so permanent alimony, or extended temporary alimony, is more common.

Is there any way to know how much spousal support you can receive?

There is no guarantee or specific formula that can tell you how much spousal support to expect. You do have the potential to decide on how much is fair with your spouse and to ask the court to approve what you’ve agreed on. If you can’t agree, then the judge will make the decision for you. Overall, the amount ordered will need to be enough to boost your income, but the total the court agrees with might vary from what you suggest unless you and your attorney are able to produce documents and information to support your requested amount.