A divorce or separation is a high stress situation for anyone, and the issue of support can make this process even more contentious. It is rare in any marriage for both parties to be on the same tier financially, with similar earning power. In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, there can be significant financial strain, usually more so for one party than the other. The purpose of a spousal support order is to alleviate some of this hardship.
The dissolution of a marriage may take one party from a state of comfort and financial security to a state of panic and worry. In situations where there is a significant income disparity (along with other contributing factors), monthly spousal support or alimony can help to pay bills and cover daily expenses. Seeking out legal representation in order to address spousal or child support claims should be done as quickly as possible in order to avoid any negative financial repercussions.
The Basis of Spousal Support
Just because a marriage or relationship has dissolved does not mean that spousal support is guaranteed. When considering financial distribution, there are three main points used to determine whether spousal support applies and the amount and duration to be paid:
- The Compensatory Basis: Every marriage is unique. Some of these unions fall into the category of “traditional”. These traditional marriages often feature one spouse who maintains a career and one who dedicates their time to child-rearing or household maintenance. In these situations where a more concrete career path or education have been put on hold, re-entering the workforce can be incredibly difficult. Meanwhile, the spouse who has been able to maintain a career throughout the marriage will have a greater ability to earn a livable income.
- The Non-Compensatory Basis: For a spouse lacking financial freedom or the ability to pay household bills or cover expenses, support may be the only way to keep themselves afloat. Financial need in these situations is determined by the length of a marriage and the standards of living both while together and following a separation.
- The Contractual Basis: No one enters into a marriage anticipating its end, but more and more couples are choosing to incorporate aspects of insurance into these unions. Pre-nuptial/ Post-nuptial agreements can set a pre-determined amount for support in the event of a divorce, as can Separation agreements following a split. These contracts can be highly complicated or straight forward but either case will make determining support costs a much easier process.
Contributing Factors for Spousal Support
The reason for divorce is generally not relevant to cases of spousal support. Even if one party is seen to be “more” responsible through infidelity or abuse, this is not a contributing factor to support determinations. What is taken into consideration are the roles that each spouse played in the relationship throughout the course of the marriage, the length of time that a couple has been together, the financial interdependence between the spouses and whether or not there are any standing agreements in play that may help to determine support requirements.
The goal of spousal support agreements is to promote financial independence and self-sufficiency when combined with fair division of assets and finances following a divorce. Choosing an experienced spousal support lawyer can help to navigate this emotional arena is a calm and collected way.