Spousal support, also known as alimony, is the system of court-ordered monthly payments from one spouse to another after divorce. Spousal support can either be decided by mediation or by court. If the couple is unable to agree on a fair amount, the court will take over and force a decision usually based on a more mathematical approach that the parties may not find fair. Because of this, it is usually more desirable to decide during mediation on an amount that is fair for both sides.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and need mediation, contact a divorce mediator in your local area today.
How is the Amount and Duration Determined?
Unlike child support, spousal support is not mandatory and may not be given at all. It is also not set by strict guidelines. This gives greater flexibility to the couple. However, if they cannot agree then it will be passed to the court. In either case, a number of factors are usually looked at while the decision is being made:
- Current standard of living
- Length of the marriage
- Ability for both sides to support themselves
- Incomes of both sides
- Number of children
Types of Spousal Support
Based on the above factors, the couple will also have to decide on which kind of support fits the situation. These affect the duration of the support. These are the options with the first two being most common:
- Fixed Period: Paid for only a few years until the recipient becomes self-sufficient.
- Indefinite: Paid for the rest of the recipient’s life, due to the unlikeliness of ever becoming self-sufficient.
- Reimbursement: To repay a debt from one spouse to another. Paid until the debt is paid off.
- Lump-sum: All spousal support is paid at the end of divorce. There are no reoccurring payments.
Changing Spousal Support
Either former spouse may petition the court at any time to review the spousal support payments. The court may end, increase or decrease payments if necessary. However, this is done only in rare cases. As such, the paying spouse earning more or less is usually not sufficient justification to change payments.
The Purpose of Spousal Support
The purpose of spousal support is to adjust any uneven financial situation after the divorce. There are many reasons that this could become necessary, such as an unemployed or stay-at-home parent or significant income differences between the two parties. In order to correct this, the couple or the court may decide that it may be desirable to have the higher-earning spouse send monthly payments that are meant to make up for the difference.
Get Legal Help
Ensuring that you have the best possible legal representation during the negotiation is important. These kinds of divorce issues can affect you for many years after your divorce. Your attorney will be able to give you relevant and important advice as to the best course forward with your divorce-related legal issue.