When is spousal support granted in a divorce?

Spousal support or alimony is governed by state laws. Specific information about your state’s laws can be found in your state’s statutes. States may grant spousal support upon the dissolution of a marriage or during the legal separation of a couple after one party requests spousal support by petitioning the court. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “When does the court grant spousal support after a divorce?”

How does court calculate spousal support?

 

The court will review several factors to determine whether spousal support should be awarded. Courts do not consider marital misconduct, and marital misconduct does not impact the amount, duration, or need for spousal support. Spousal support may be granted permanently or temporarily.

As mentioned above, the factors your state may use to evaluate the need for spousal support payments may vary somewhat from the factors discussed below. But common factors most state courts will use include the following:

  • Does the requesting party lack sufficient property to meet their needs? The court will review the property given to each spouse and determine if both spouses are able to maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to during the marriage.
  • Does the requesting party have enough funds to support themselves in the condition they have grown accustomed? The court will review the requesting spouse’s employment opportunities and whether they will have to parent a child full-time.
  • How much time is necessary for the requesting spouse to get sufficient training or education to find appropriate employment? The court will consider the person’s age, skill sets, and education level and work training. The court will also consider whether the requesting spouse has been absent from the workforce for an extended period of time and whether they will ever have the ability to earn a sufficient living.
  • What was the standard of living during the marriage for each spouse?
  • What other sources of income does the requesting spouse have? Do they have retirement benefits?
  • The age, health, and physical and mental well-being of the requesting spouse.
  • The ability of the supporting spouse to make spousal support payments and maintain their own standard of living.
  • Whether the requesting spouse has foregone their own employment opportunities to support or further the other spouse’s employment or business. The court will also review the “contribution of each person in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property.”

Does the court have a formula for determining spousal support?

 

The court does not use a specific formula to determine the amount or duration for spousal support. The judge will have broad discretion to make the decision, and it is not uncommon for one or both parties to object. The court’s decision, however, is not generally overturned on appeal unless the appeals’ court decides “the decision constitutes a clearly erroneous conclusion that is against logic and the facts presented to the trial court.” Talk to a divorce lawyer if you have questions about spousal support calculations in your state.