Spousal Support / Alimony

Post-Divorce Financial Support to a Dependent Spouse

Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a monetary payment from one spouse to a dependent spouse. Spousal support may be awarded to either a husband or wife after a divorce or separation to help the dependent spouse maintain the standard of living that was set during the marriage.

Depending on the state and the specific circumstances surrounding the marriage and divorce, spousal support may be awarded temporarily or permanently. When it is awarded temporarily, it is typically used to help the dependent spouse not only maintain the standard of living set during the marriage but to establish financial independence. This may be necessary particularly in situations where the dependant spouse acted as a stay-at-home parent or forsook a career or continued education to contribute to the marriage and/or family.

Determining the amount and duration of spousal support may be very complex and can become the source of disagreement in a divorce. If spouses are unable to reach their own agreement regarding spousal support, the court will need to intervene. Specific laws and regulations regarding spousal support / alimony will vary from state to state, but the following issues may be taken into consideration when the court determines spousal support:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The standard of living set during the marriage;
  • Each spouse's contributions to the marriage;
  • Whether one spouse contributed to the education of the other;
  • Whether one spouse contributed to helping the other spouse establish a business;
  • The age and health of each spouse;
  • The earning capacity of each spouse;
  • The current financial standing of each spouse; and
  • How property and debt was or will be divided in the divorce.

Financial Support & Legal Fees during a Divorce

In some cases, a spouse may be required to financially support a dependent spouse during a divorce. This may include paying legal fees and living expenses through the duration of divorce proceedings. Particularly in regard to the payment of legal fees, this is required to ensure that the higher-income spouse does not have an unfair advantage over the dependent spouse because of his or her ability to afford an attorney.

To learn more about spousal support/alimony, find a family lawyer in your area.