While spousal support (also called alimony or maintenance) may not be quite as popular as it used to be, it still is needed in some cases. Some divorcing spouses need financial support to help them and the courts in every state have ways of addressing that need. The spouse that requests support must show a need and the spouse that is paying the support must be able to afford it. Support is not often meant to last a lifetime, however, so read on to find out how spousal support might come to an end.
The Need for Spousal Support
Even though women make up increasing numbers in the workforce, some families have decided that one party should stay home and care for the children of the family. Spousal support is not just for women – if the man of the relationship shows a need, they can also be eligible for financial help. The spouse who needs support can either make an agreement directly with the divorcing spouse to be paid a certain amount or it can be litigated in court. In most cases, the courts won't disagree with a provision to pay spousal support if both parties are in agreement, but when the judge has to determine whether or not a need exists, the following will be considered:
- Health – When a spouse is affected by a chronic and serious physical illness, support is in order.
- Mental health – Just as with physical disabilities, mental health issues can help spur a support order.
- Age – Older spouses may be less likely to get jobs and be able to support themselves.
The amount ordered for spousal support is based on the incomes of the parties, the pre-divorce standard of living, equitable distribution or community property status of the state, and other factors.
Termination of Spousal Support
There are several different types of support and the ending time depends on the form:
1. Temporary spousal support is in existence only during the separation period leading up to the divorce. It ends upon the divorce being final.
2. Rehabilitative support may be ordered so that the spouse can attain job training or finish a degree. It ends upon attaining the stated goal.
3. Permanent support usually only ends with the remarriage of the receiving spouse.
4. It should be noted that spousal support can be included in trusts or will provisions so that it can continue to provide support to an ex even after a death.
5. Cohabitation presents a sticky issue. In some cases, the courts have ruled that the living arrangement of the spouse mirrors that of a marriage. That means that if your ex-spouse can show that your cohabitation with a romantic partner provides you with the same financial benefit that being married does, you could lose your spousal support.
To learn more about spousal support, reach out to family law attorney services.