When a couple divorces, one party may need more financial support than the other. That is the idea behind spousal support or alimony. Those that show a need can be awarded a financial payment that can be lump-sum, regular, temporary, rehabilitative, or permanent. To find out more about what goes into deciding the amount paid, read on.

Spousal Support: Still an Issue

Some people might assume that spousal support is no longer needed in a divorce. Nevertheless, those who need it may get it in certain circumstances. The question of need is predicated on several factors:

  • An income disparity between the spouses.
  • A steep drop in the standard of living for one spouse.
  • Age of the spouse (older and less-healthy spouses are more likely to be awarded permanent spousal support).
  • The ability of one spouse to bring in income. For those who gave up education and/or career opportunities to support their spouse or to care for the children of the family, rehabilitative spousal support may be ordered.

How Much Is Paid?

Child support is always based on the higher-earning spouse's income. There are few standards for spousal support, however. A child's needs are the priority of the court but a divorcing spouse may need to advocate and prove that they need spousal support. More than a single factor is considered when spousal support is ordered. For instance, the judge may look at the following issues:

  • Income and assets of both parties – Financial disclosures are used to evaluate any income and asset differences between the two parties. The higher earner should be able to pay what is ordered and the amount is based on their income.
  • Length of marriage – some who have been married for a short time (less than a year, less than 10 years, etc.) will likely end up with smaller support payments.
  • The health of the paying party – It's no use ordering a spouse who is unable to work due to medical issues to pay a sum of money if they are not able to work.
  • Domestic issues – When abuse is involved, the amount of support can be more generous. While no-fault divorce is common in all states, that doesn't mean that the judge will turn a blind eye to abuse and cheating issues.
  • Debt and property divisions – The totality of the divorce settlement is taken into consideration. If one spouse is awarded more real estate, for example, they may not be as likely to also be awarded a large support payment.

Spousal support and the amount you receive can be a complex issue. Speak to a divorce attorney to find out more.