If you were the higher income earner when you were married, you may be ordered to pay spousal support when your divorce is finalized. Of course, your obvious questions are how much and for how long. Here is what you should know about spousal support.
Why Is There Spousal Support?
Married couples work together as a team. They might decide that it is best to have a stay-at-home parent, or a spouse might take a flexible, lower paying job so that they can move around with a spouse who has a high paying job that requires frequent moves.
Because spouses contribute to the marriage in more ways than just money, the law says it's not fair for the spouse with the lower income to be worse off for having made these sacrifices. Spousal support is designed to recognize their non-economic financial contribution to the marriage.
How is Spousal Support Determined?
Spousal support is designed to allow a spouse to maintain their standard of living while finding a way to provide for themselves. The amount and length of spousal support depends on the length of the marriage, the career paths of both spouses, the receiving spouse's education, and how long it will take for the receiving spouse to reach their full income earning potential.
How Long Does Spousal Support Last?
Courts tend to favor short term spousal support awards. In most cases, it will either be temporary until shortly after the divorce or at most a few years.
Long or lifetime spousal support awards are rare, and are only granted after a long marriage where one spouse was a completely stay-at-home spouse. Even in these cases, courts will expect that the receiving spouse will be able to find some form of employment to cover at least a good portion of their expenses.
Can Spousal Support Be Changed?
Once a spousal support determination is made, it can't be adjusted without good reason. A spouse can't argue for a change simply because they think it was too much or too little, unless the judge didn't follow the law correctly.
Modifications are permitted when there has been a significant change in circumstances. This includes things like the receiving spouse remarrying or obtaining a high-paying job, or the paying spouse being laid off from their job.
To get help setting up, fighting, or modifying a spousal support award, contact a local family law attorney today.