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Spousal Support

Spousal Support is money paid by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. It is sometimes called alimony or maintenance. Many factors may affect whether a married or common-law spouse is entitled to spousal support and how much support they should receive.

Alimony maintenance spousal support (U.S., Canada) and spousal maintenance (Australia)) is a legal obligation on a person to provide financial support to their spouse before or after marital separation or divorce. The obligation arises from the divorce law or family law of each country.

Child Support 

Alimony is not child support, where, after divorce, one parent is required to contribute to the support of their children by paying money to the child's other parent or guardian. Child support is considered a payment that a parent is making for the support of their offspring, and the parent who pays it pays the taxes. However, alimony is treated as taxable income, in most countries, to the receiving spouse, and, in most cases, deducted from the gross income of the paying spouse (the United States IRS does not allow for child support to be deducted from AGI).

FactorDescription
Length of the marriage or civil unionGenerally, alimony lasts for a term or period. However, it will last longer if the marriage or civil union lasted longer. A marriage or civil union of over 10 years is often a candidate for permanent alimony.
Time separated while still marriedIn some U.S. states, separation is a triggering event, recognized as the end of the term of the marriage. Other U.S. states do not recognize separation or legal separation. In a state not recognizing separation, a 2-year marriage followed by an 8-year separation will generally be treated like a 10-year marriage.
Age of the parties at the time of the divorceGenerally, more youthful spouses are considered to be more able to 'get on' with their lives, and therefore thought to require shorter periods of support.
Relative income of the partiesIn U.S. states that recognize a right of the spouses to live 'according to the means to which they have become accustomed', alimony attempts to adjust the incomes of the spouses so that they are able to approximate, as best possible, their prior lifestyle.
Future financial prospects of the partiesA spouse who is going to realize significant income in the future is likely to have to pay higher alimony than one who is not.
Health of the partiesPoor health goes towards need, and potentially an inability to support oneself. The courts are disinclined to leave one party indigent.
Fault in marital breakdownIn U.S. states where fault is recognized, fault can significantly affect alimony, increasing, reducing or even nullifying it. Many U.S. states are 'no-fault' states, where one does not have to show fault to get divorced. No-fault divorce spares the spouses the acrimony of the 'fault' processes, and closes the eyes of the court to any and all improper spousal behavior. In Georgia, however, a person who has an affair that causes the divorce is not entitled to alimony.
Reform In United States

In the United States, family laws and precedents as they relate to divorce, community property and alimony vary based on state law. Also, with new family models, "working couples", "working wives", "stay-at-home dads", etc., there are situations where some parties to a divorce question whether traditional economic allocations made in a divorce are fair and equitable to the facts of their individual case. Some groups have proposed various forms of legislation to reform alimony parameters (i.e. amounts and term).Alimony terms are among the most frequent issues causing litigation in family law cases. Eighty percent of divorce cases involve a request for modification of alimony.