Spousal support, also known as alimony, can be a complex topic to address during divorce. The court can award it to either spouse. There are several factors the court may consider in deciding the amount that should be paid and for how long.
Spousal support overview
The court will evaluate the standard of living the spouses had during their marriage and its goal is to help the lower earning spouse keep a similar lifestyle. It will also consider whether the spouses are able to work and if so, what their earning capacity is now and in the future. It may review income and asset statements as well as any debt the couple has.
If one spouse did not work during the marriage and instead provided other contributions to the household, like childcare or housework, the court may include those non-financial services in its support calculation. Also, the court may review the age and the health of the parties. The spousal support amount is usually higher for longer marriages.
Spending the support
Spousal support is intended to be used by the receiving spouse for their needs. Usually, this includes rent or mortgage payments, groceries and utilities. It can also be used for healthcare and other personal items, like clothing.
If the receiving spouse needs additional education or training to be financially independent in the future, they may use the spousal support for those purposes as well.
The court order will specify if there are limitations on how the support can be used. There is help available for those who need guidance through this process.