Spousal support can be crucial during the divorce process both for the spouse requesting spousal support and the spouse who may have to pay spousal support. Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is intended to address economic imbalance following the divorce, however, it is not guaranteed. Either spouse can request it and the paying spouse may oppose the request.
Factors used to determine spousal support
Based on the requesting spouse’s circumstances, a spousal support request will be evaluated including if:
- The requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for their own reasonable needs;
- The requesting spouse is not able to be self-sufficient through employment or lacks earning capacity in the job market;
- The requesting spouse is the custodian of a child which makes it inappropriate for them to seek employment outside the home;
- The requesting spouse contributed to educational or employment opportunities for the other spouse;
- The duration of the marriage was long which leaves the requesting spouse at an age that makes it impracticable for them to obtain employment that would make them self-sufficient.
How long do spousal support payments continue?
The family law court will have to evaluate a spousal support request to decide if a spousal support should be awarded and for how much and how long it should be awarded. To determine how long spousal support should be awarded, if it is awarded, the family law court looks to:
- The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The comparative financial resources of each of the divorcing spouses, including earning capacity;
- The extent to which one spouse reduced their income or career opportunities for the benefit of the other spouse; and
- The ability of both spouses to contribute to future educational costs for any children from the marriage.
Spousal support can be a contentious issue during divorce. For that reason, it is helpful for divorcing spouses with concerns related to spousal support to be familiar with how it is determined.