In a divorce, what is fair spousal support? In former days, where men were more often the breadwinners and women dependent homemakers, alimony was an attempt to level the playing field for women who needed temporary support or who even required long-term financial support. Now, divorcing couples may each be wage earners or either one could stay home to manage the kids; so the man could be just as economically vulnerable. Either party may be responsible for paying alimony, based on their own personal agreement or on the decree of the court. |
Factors Used To Determine Spousal Support
Most states have laws governing the disposition of property and debt, but spousal support is often left to the discretion of the court. However, there are certain criteria that often form the basis of a decision as to whether a spouse should receive alimony and for how much and how long. These factors include:
The needs of the requesting spouse. These are typically based on the standard of living of the parties during the marriage.
The ability of the requesting spouse to contribute to his or her needs.
The ability of the paying spouse to meet the needs of the requesting spouse.
Other factors taken into consideration may include:
The age, health, mental state, and financial condition of each spouse, all of which are taken into consideration and can make a difference in the amount of alimony awarded.
The amount of time needed to acquire training to make the other party self-sufficient. A person with no job skills might get alimony for as long as it takes them acquire skills and obtain a job.
The job sacrifices made during the marriage. If one long-suffering spouse put their career on hold in order to support the other one through medical school, they might be granted alimony to get their own career off the ground.
The standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. Alimony may come into play if there will be a great disparity after the marriage, especially a long one.
How long the marriage lasted. In short marriages, former spouses may exit the marriage with what they came in with, without an ongoing obligation of one person to support the other.
The ability of the paying spouse to support him or herself as well as the other party. Alimony should not make the spouse who has to pay it destitute and in a worse position than the one who receives it.
Leaving Spousal Support Determinations In The Hands Of The Court
Some divorcing spouses are able to come to an agreement based on their own terms. In many cases, however, people are so full of emotion and resentment toward the other party that they are unwilling or unable to negotiate to come to a solution both parties are satisfied with. Once the matter gets to court, while the facts may direct the judge's decision about alimony, the reality is that the judge can interpret them in a way that may be helpful or harmful to either party. Since this is true, both parties in the divorce should have representation to help represent them in the best manner possible.
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