Divorce Library – Spousal Support Faqs

  How is spousal support determined?


Unlike child support, spousal support is not calculated with the use of an algorithm. There are numerous statutory factors to be considered by the Court in determining spousal support. Those circumstances include:

  1. The earning capacity of each party to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage taking into account:
    • Marketable skills of each party;
    • Time and training to acquire marketable skills;
    • Extent future earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment during the marriage so that the supported party could devote time to domestic duties;
    • The extent the supported party contributed to the career of the supporting party;
    • The ability of the supporting party to pay;
    • The needs of each party based on standard of living during the marriage;
    • The obligations and assets, including the separate property of each party;
    • The duration of the marriage;
    • The ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without unduly interfering with the interests of dependent children in the custody of the party;
    • The balance of the hardships to each party;
    • The goal that the supported party shall be self supporting within a reasonable amount of time;
    • Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.

As you can imagine, the amount of support lies clearly within the discretion of the Court based on numerous factors. It may be in the best interests of the parties to attempt to negotiate spousal support to the satisfaction of both parties.

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  How long does spousal support last?


Typically, spousal support for a marriage under 10 years lasts for 1/2 the length of the marriage, at which time the Court’s ability to award spousal support after that time is usually terminated. However, this is not a hard and fast rule and based on other factors, the Court could determine spousal support should last for a longer or shorter period of time.

In marriages over 10 years in duration, the Court will generally retain jurisdiction to review the issue of spousal support indefinitely. The initial support order in a long term marriage may be for half the length of the marriage, however at the end of that time the court has the power to review the issue of support and continue spousal support if warranted. It is also typical for spousal support in a long term marriage to continue until the supporting spouse brings an action in the future to modify based on changed circumstances. For more information on sposual support, speak to a divorce attorney at Neumann Family Law, APC.

In a long term marriage where the supported spouse is of an age making employment difficult, it is likely the Court will order spousal support to continue as long as the supporting spouse is able to pay support or terminates by operation of law.

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  When does spousal support terminate by operation of law?


Spousal Support terminates when the supported party remarries or dies, or the party providing support dies.

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  Does cohabitation terminate spousal support?


If the parties agree that cohabitation terminates spousal support, then spousal support will terminate after a party cohabitates with a person of the opposite sex in a romantic relationship.

If there is not agreement to terminate spousal support when a party cohabitates after a certain period of time, then spousal support does not terminate by operation of law. In this instance, the supporting party can move the court to review the issue of spousal support as there is a rebuttable presumption that the person cohabitating has a reduced need for support.

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  Can spousal support be waived?


Unlike child support that cannot be waived, spousal support can be waived by agreement between the parties, terminating the court’s ability to award spousal support based on any circumstances in the future.

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  Can spousal support be modified?


In a Marital Settlement Agreement, parties can agree to make spousal support non-modifiable. In this instance then, spousal support would not be modifiable.

If the parties do not agree to make spousal support non-modifiable, then spousal support orders are modifiable upon any showing of changed circumstances as long as the Court’s jurisdiction to award support has not terminated by operation of law or due to the agreement of the parties.

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