Spousal support is an obligation set forth by statute to support a spouse.  A court can order that temporary spousal be paid by one spouse to the other following separation and continuing until further order, agreement or judgment.  The duty of support may continue following the termination of the marriage. There are a number of statutory factors that are considered when determining when considering the continuing duty of support as well as the amount and duration of support.  Those factors include the extent to which the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.  The statutes recognize that a party’s earning capacity may have been affected circumstances such as periods of unemployment due to domestic responsibilities such as child-rearing.

Many people have the notion that support is payable for one-half of the period of the marriage.  This incorrect notion comes from the statutory factor that provides that the goal is for the supported spouse to be come self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.  The statute also says that “Except in the case of a marriage of long duration”, a reasonable period of time is generally one-half the length of the marriage.  The court, however, has discretion to order support for a longer or shorter period of time.

Spousal support awards may be granted in long-term marriages more often than short-term marriages since it is more likely in a long-term marriage that one of the partners gave up their earning potential in order to attend to the needs of their family. Additionally, an award of spousal support may turn on whether the person who will be making the support payments will be able to support themselves if they are required to provide their ex with financial support.

Spousal support can be paid in many forms, from lump sum payments to monthly payments that last for extended periods of time. In order to determine what type of support arrangement may best suit their needs, readers are asked to seek professional legal guidance from divorce attorneys who are familiar with their cases.