Spousal Support

Spousal support, often referred to as alimony, is a monthly sum paid by the higher earning spouse to the lower earning spouse during and after a divorce.

Spousal support paid while the divorce is pending is called temporary support.  Spousal support paid after the divorce is completed is called permanent support.  Permanent means only that the divorce has already been finalized, not that support will continue forever.

Temporary spousal support is generally determined by a formula that takes into account the income of each spouse, the tax status of each spouse, and other factors.  This calculation is done utilizing software known as DissoMaster.

Permanent spousal support is not determined by a formula.  Instead, the judge must weigh a variety of factors to determine the appropriate amount of support.  The factors that the judge will consider include the length of the marriage, the income of each spouse, the health of each spouse, the age of each spouse, periods of unemployment to raise the children, domestic violence, and many other factors.

For a marriage of less than ten years, spousal support is usually paid for a period of time equal to half the length of the marriage.  For a marriage of ten years or more, the length of time for paying spousal support is dependent upon the specific circumstances of the case and is in the discretion of the judge.

The spouse that is receiving spousal support is required to take efforts to become self-supporting so that he or she does not need to rely on spousal support forever.  Efforts to become self-supporting include securing full-time employment, receiving training, and/or working toward a degree.

Similar to child support, circumstances may change over time so the spousal support order may need to be modified.  The following may be considered a change in circumstances warranting a modification of spousal support:  when child support ends, when one or both parties have a change in income, or when one or both parties retire.