Spousal support can be one of the most significant concerns during a couple’s divorce. Spousal support may be awarded to one spouse during the divorce process of may be agreed upon by the couple. Divorcing couples may wonder how spousal support is determined and what purpose it serves. Spousal support is intended to provide assistance to a lower-wage earning spouse or a spouse that did not work during the marriage and may have remained in the home to care for the household and children.

Spousal support is intended to offset any unfair economic impact of a divorce on one spouse and ensure as much as possible the economic viability of both spouses following divorce and that a standard of living similar to the one enjoyed during the marriage is preserved. Spousal support can be awarded in different amounts and for different periods of time. In some circumstances, state laws dictate spousal support, or alimony, awards so it is important to know the laws in your state.

Several factors are considered when determining an award of spousal support. Factors that are considered include the age, physical condition, emotional condition and financial condition of the former spouses; the couple’s standard of living during the marriage; the length of the marriage; the amount of time the spouse receiving spousal support will need to obtain the education and training needed to become self-sufficient; and the ability of the paying spouse to pay spousal support and still support themselves.

There are significant potential penalties for failure to pay spousal support once a valid support order is in place so it is important to be familiar with family law resources and how to utilize them if the paying spouse is having difficulty meeting spousal support obligations. Because spousal support can sometimes be a contentious issue for divorcing couples to consider, it is helpful to understand how spousal support is determined and what you can do if you need help with a spousal support order.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, “Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics,” Accessed Oct. 26, 2017