What You Need to Know About Spousal Support & Alimony

While child support is typically cut and dried, spousal support is an often misunderstood part of the divorce process. Some individuals feel they should be entitled to spousal support regardless of the situation, while others who deserve it don’t even think it’s a possibility. Regardless of your stance on this issue, it’s important to head into any divorce case with a solid understanding of what spousal support is and whether you may qualify for it. In general terms, alimony, otherwise known as spousal support, is awarded to individuals who have mutually agreed to give up their own careers to take care of the home and the family. While this typically occurs with women, men can qualify for alimony as well when the conditions are right.

Why Award Spousal Support?

One of the biggest questions people ask is why alimony is even awarded. After all, when you divorce, you will both need to maintain and financially support separate households, which can be an expensive task. If child support is already awarded, one individual’s income is already impaired. However, when it comes to spousal support, there is a definite purpose as well. Most cases in which alimony is awarded involve one spouse staying home to raise the children and take care of the household tasks. Not all families find a two-parent working household to work for them. When the couple separates, though, the individual who stayed home may be at a severe disadvantage when trying to re-enter the workforce. The longer the individual has been out of work, the more difficult the task may be. Spousal support is designed to be a temporary assistance to help this individual get on their feet while they look for a job.

What Factors Apply?

Not all marriages will qualify for alimony, even when one of the partners chose to stay home to raise the family. The court will look at each individual case and weigh several factors before making a final decision. When you consult with one of our attorneys, we will go over these factors and help you understand your likelihood of being awarded or billed with alimony. Some of the factors the judge may look at include:

  • Length of the marriage (marriages lasting more than 10 years have a higher likelihood of spousal support)
  • Age and overall health of each spouse
  • Skills and earning capacity
  • Financial needs
  • Domestic violence issues
  • Tax consequences

An attorney will not be able to give a definitive answer because the results will vary based on how a judge looks at these factors, but we can help you understand your odds and what you may be looking at in your final judgment.

We Ensure a Fair Calculation

In some cases, the other party’s attorney may run a calculation and make an offer to help speed up the process and keep costs down for both parties. However, it is never a good idea to agree to this type of offer without consulting with an attorney of your own. We can help you look over your case and hold it up against the same criteria a judge would so you don’t shortchange yourself in this important matter.