A divorce ends not only an emotional relationship but a financial as well. When a married couple decides that divorce is the chosen path, it is necessary to seek knowledgeable and dedicated legal representation. Spousal maintenance, which can also be referred to as spousal support or alimony, is often requested by one spouse from the other as part of a negotiated divorce agreement. One of the most disputed financial decisions is that of spousal support. It is the monetary payment from one spouse to the other and it ensures that both parties are able to maintain a lifestyle that is similar to the one they had during their marriage.
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What is Spousal Support?
Spousal support is when one spouse has to financially support the other spouse either temporarily or permanently depending on the factors surrounding that marriage. When married, a couple supports each other financially. However, when a couple decides to divorce, then one individual may be at a financial disadvantage. Spousal support can be agreed upon during divorce negotiations between the parties. However, in more contentious situations, a judge may make the final determination of support and base its decision on many things, including each partner’s financial situation.
How Does a Court Determine Spousal Support?
When the court is left to determine the duration and amount of spousal support, it will focus on many factors, which includes:
- The income and property of each party
- The duration of the marriage
- Contribution to the marriage – both financial and non-financial
- Each party’s health and age
- The present and future potential income capacity of each individual
- Acts of one spouse against another
- Wasteful use of marital property by a spouse
- Potential tax consequences to both parties
Potential Entitlement Before Divorce or Annulment
Prior to a final Judgment of Divorce or legal Annulment, you may also be entitled to interim spousal support, which may include exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence, otherwise known as pendente lite relief, to maintain your standard of living while litigation takes its course. An appropriate support amount will be determined pursuant to the State’s Domestic Relations Laws and Guideline Maintenance factors. While everyone’s individual circumstances will be different, you may be entitled to pendente lite relief if:
- Your spouse is not paying child support;
- Your spouse makes significantly more than you and is not helping financially;
- You cannot afford to pay some or all of your legal fees;
- You cannot afford to pay some or all of the fees of experts necessary to help you in obtaining a fair share of the marital assets;
- Your spouse is verbally or physically abusive;
- You or your children are at risk from your spouse’s behavior.
Over 40 Years of Combined Experience Matrimonial and Family Law.