How is Spousal Support Determined?

Many spouses are concerned about providing for themselves and their minor children when faced with a divorce, especially if they earn significantly less than their spouse, are unemployed, or have voluntarily left the workforce to raise children or manage the home. In situations like these, the Court can order one spouse to pay support to the other support, on either a temporary or permanent basis. Spousal support is calculated outside of any order for child support.


What Types of Spousal Support are Available?

A Court can award either temporary or permanent spousal support in a divorce proceeding. Temporary Spousal Support is spousal support order for the duration of the divorce process. Temporary spousal support ends when the divorce is finalized, and either no further support is awarded, or a permanent order for support is put in place.

A common calculation used by the Court to determine temporary spousal support is 40% of the higher earning spouse’s net monthly income, reduced by 50% of the receiving spouse’s net monthly income. If child support has also been ordered by the Court, that amount will be calculated first, and then spousal support will be determined.

Permanent Spousal Support is determined during the divorce process, and begins once a divorce has been finalized by the Court. The Court has discretion in setting the amount of permanent spousal support, which is why it is extremely important that you have a lawyer representing you who understands family law, and the ins and outs of spousal support. In determining whether or not to order permanent spousal support, the Court will look at whether the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. In order to do that, the Court will look at the marketable skills of both parties, the extent one party contributed to the education, job training and career positioning of the other party, the ability of either party to pay spousal support, the obligations and assets of each party (including property purchased by either party prior to the marriage), the duration of the marriage, and other factors.


There is a standard calculation for the length of time that permanent spousal support should be ordered for, which is generally half the length of the marriage. Of course, there are exceptions to this standard rule. If you are looking for spousal support legal representation call the Law Offices of Anne Dowden Saxton today to discuss the specific facts of your case with our experienced and compassionate staff.

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