Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a series of payments (typically monthly) that one spouse or former spouse makes to the other. These payments can be made during the separation period, as temporary support, as well as after a divorce order is entered. The decisions about what the support amount should be and how long it will last can be made by agreement of the parties or by a judge.
Regardless, the details are written into an enforceable court order. Support payments can terminate on a set date or continue indefinitely until such later time as a court makes a modification or the parties agree to a change. Support amounts can be modifiable or non-modifiable depending on circumstances.
Temporary spousal support, also known as pendente lite (meaning “pending the litigation”) support, is paid when appropriate until a complete agreement is reached, or until a Final Order of Divorce is entered.
In certain circumstances, spousal support could be ordered for a finite term following the end of the marriage to provide the spouse with lower relative income with sufficient financial support while he or she transitions to life as a single, self-supporting individual. This arrangement allows time for a successful job search, completion of certain educational goals or some other known course of action. For others, support will be needed for an indefinite period after the divorce until such time as circumstances change to warrant a modification.
Permanent spousal support is more accurately described as support for an indefinite period of time in an amount that could be later modified if and when there is a material change in circumstances for either the payer or recipient of support. The length of the marriage and the recipient party’s likelihood of being able to take steps to become self-supporting are often the difference between support of a finite duration and indefinite.
The amount of support will also be based on a number of factors set out in the spousal support statute. The court will look at the needs of the recipient, and the ability of the other party to pay support. It is important to note that if a party has committed adultery, he or she may not be eligible to receive spousal support, depending on certain other factors.
As with all forms of support, permanent support will automatically terminate upon death of either party, or the remarriage or cohabitation of a year or more of the spouse receiving support, unless the parties agree otherwise.
As the courts review the circumstances specific to your relationship, they will determine if spousal support is appropriate and, if so, for what duration and in what amount. These decisions are based upon several factors, including the earning capacity of each spouse, the property interests of each spouse, the age and mental conditions of each spouse, the duration of the marriage, and the marital standard of living.
At ShounBach, we are here to help our clients obtain a comfortable lifestyle in the wake of their divorce. Whether this means taking aggressive action to ensure that one spouse is provided with the appropriate amount of spousal support, or it means negotiating on behalf of a spouse who feels they should be permitted to pay a minimal amount, we are here to help. Together, our firm has more than two centuries of legal experience under our belts and we can help you file for divorce and obtain the permanent spousal support you need to live comfortably away from your spouse.