Spousal support, or alimony, is money paid in either a lump sum or in periodic payments from one spouse to another. It is designed to “even out” any significant financial differences between the couple. For example, if one spouse has a significantly higher income than the other, then an award of spousal support is much more likely.
Like many states, calculating spousal support is a matter of examining several factors about you and your spouse’s property and financial situation. How much alimony you can get and how long you can receive it will depend on a variety of factors. Your standard of living will also have a significant bearing on whether alimony is appropriate. Keep in mind that the type of alimony you are awarded will determine how long your maintenance payments will continue.
Calculating Spousal Support: Factors to Consider
Spousal support is designed to help ensure that both spouses have relatively equal ongoing income after a divorce. This allows both spouses to keep the standard of living that they had during the marriage.
While alimony was traditionally paid from the husband to the wife, that is not necessarily the case now. Women are now the primary breadwinners in about 40% of all American families today.
Calculating spousal support requires the court to look at several social and financial factors.
The Length of the Marriage
Longer marriages are more likely to see higher spousal support awards. Marriages that last seven years or less are considered “short term.” A “medium term” marriage is between seven and 17 years. “Long-term” marriages are over 17 years.
Current Employment or Employment Prospects
The Court will examine whether each spouse is employed and their relative income. It will also explore the ability of any non-working spouse to obtain employment based on their current education, experience, and training. If one spouse is entirely or mostly dependent on the other and has few options for work, alimony is much more likely to be awarded.
If there are past episodes of domestic violence, alimony is more likely to be awarded on at least a temporary basis. This allows the lower-earning spouse to get back on his or her feet after this type of traumatic event.
Child Support or Responsibilities Related to Children
Spousal support awards will also consider which spouse has the children. They are calculated in such a way that the spouse who has the children will have enough to either pay support or continue the care of his or her children. Higher child support payments often lead to a reduction in spousal support payments.
The Age of Each Spouse
Age will also often affect the amount of alimony a spouse can receive. Older adults are much less likely to be able to go back to school or re-enter the workforce if they have been unemployed for some time. As age increase, the amount of alimony will also generally increase.
Standard of Living in the Martial Home
Because the purpose of spousal support is to allow both spouses to maintain their standard of living, the Court will take a hard look at the marital standard of living, including housing, necessities, and luxuries in which both spouses have become accustomed.
How a Spousal Support Attorney Can Help
Having a spousal support attorney to help you obtain or decrease spousal support can be very beneficial. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.