How Much Spousal Support?

By Staff Writer

Unlike child support, alimony, or spousal support, is much more difficult to assess and calculate. All states have a formula to assist the Court in calculating the appropriate amount of child support based on the number of children in the family, the income of the parties and other such factors. Spousal support is not calculated on such a formula and, rather is determined based upon a variety of factors and is subject to the discretion of the Court. The amount of spousal support, the duration of the payments and even if you are entitled to receive spousal support at all varies widely from State to State and the facts of your individual situation.

Some States, for example, strongly favor "rehabilitative support and will only issue an initial award of support for a specified period of time. Other States are more open to the prospect of "lifetime" support and can issue such awards as part of an initial order of support. The factors which the Court will determine in assessing your case to determine if support is appropriate and, if so, the amount and duration of the payment, also vary greatly from State to State. In general, however, Courts will consider factors which logically should be considered in spousal support cases, such as the ability of one spouse to pay support, the needs of the recipient, the age, health, employment and educational history of the parties and the standard of living which the parties enjoyed during the marriage.

To determine if you are entitled to receive spousal support in your State, and to obtain an assessment of the potential amount and duration of the award based on where you live, you should meet with an attorney in your area. He or she will be able to focus on the relevant issues of your case and provide you with an assessment of whether or not you are likely to receive spousal support from a court and, if so, the potential amount and duration of the award.

Most divorces cases begin with an initial conference or court appearance with the Judge. At these appearances, it is common for the Judge to listen to the attorneys’ initial positions on the relevant issues. Some Judges, in an attempt to help settle the case, will provide an initial opinion of how he or she would likely rule on the various issues. If the law in your state is unclear, and the Judge appointed to your case is willing to offer an informal opinion, it would be worthwhile to have your attorney discuss the spousal support issue with the Judge. Knowing the initial opinion of the Judge and potential outcome of your case will help guide you in pursuing either a settlement or trial of the spousal support issue.