Purpose of Spousal Support
Spousal support (also known as alimony) is the court-ordered payment of money from one spouse to the other. The purpose of spousal support is to provide the spouse receiving the support with the funds necessary to maintain him or her in the lifestyle to which he or she became accustomed during the marriage. However, if the spouses were living beyond their means during the marriage, a court may not order spousal support in an amount that would maintain the receiving spouse in the lifestyle to which he or she became accustomed during the marriage.
To Award or Not to Award Spousal Support
A court does not decide whether to award (or not to award) spousal support in a vacuum. Instead, before it awards spousal support, the court must consider factors related to the age and health of the spouses, each spouse's income, their current financial situations, circumstances leading to the breakdown of the marriage, decisions regarding each spouse's employment during the marriage, decisions regarding the care of children during the marriage, and whether employment for the spouse in need of support is available or even feasible. Click here to learn more about the spousal support statutory factors.
How Much Spousal Support Will be Ordered and for How Long?
Whether you are the spouse seeking spousal support or the spouse defending against a request for spousal support, you likely want to know how much support a court is likely to order and for how long. The answer to each of these questions are, "it depends." Unlike child support, there is no spousal support statutory guideline amount or duration. Instead, by reference to the spousal support statutory factors, a court in a divorce case has broad discretion to order spousal support in the amount and for a duration the court finds appropriate. Because courts have such broad discretion with regard to the spousal support amount and duration it may order, it is extremely important to provide the court with the evidence it needs to make an informed spousal support award.
Negotiation and Settlement
Although a court has the authority to order spousal support under appropriate circumstances, the spouses are free to negotiate and settle and settle the issue between themselves. Click here to learn more about negotiation and settlement.