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Spousal Support

Spousal Support


A Quick Guide on Spousal Support


What is Spousal Support?


Spousal support is paid to a spouse that faces a serious reduction in their means of living after a divorce.  Laws differ from state to state and even district to district, and either spouse may receive payment based upon any number of conditions.  Some states allow a respondent to deny spousal support if the other spouse commits actions such as adultery or fraud, but other states allow payments in any type of divorce.  


How is Spousal Support Calculated?


Every state calculates spousal support differently.  There are different forms that each state uses, and there are different provisions within each of those forms.  However, regardless of how a state calculates spousal support, no form finalizes the payment before the case is brought in front of a judge.  If two spouses don’t agree on payment, a judge will look over multiple financial resources, child support documents, and grounds for the divorce in order to formulate the best plan.  There are many resources to help you calculate spousal support, but just know that the final decision is left up to the judge to decide.  


What are Common Calculations for Spousal Support?


Although forms vary from state to state, some general calculations and provisions are used from state to state.  This list below is only a general list.  In order to view a detailed explanation of your state’s calculation, refer to the specific state on this website.  


1) The gross income of both spouses

2) Personal and joint martial property

3) Type of employment and job skills of each spouse

4) Each spouse’s type of healthcare and coverage

5) How much support both spouse’s give to each child

6) How much each parent devotes to the care, education, and mode of living of each child

7) How much each spouse has devoted to the well-being, education, and mode of living of the other spouse

8) Tax consequences on each spouse and/or parent after the divorce

9) Monthly expenses of each spouse for anything from food and clothing to entertainment and recreation 

10) Evidence of abuse, violence, or harassment within the home


Can Spousal Support Change?


The judge determines how spousal support will be paid, when the payment will occur, and what the payments will cover.  There are generally three ways the payments can decrease over time.  Firstly, the payments may decrease or stop once the children become emancipated and/or the spouse receiving payments is in good economic standing. 


Second, payment may decrease if the spouse violates the terms on how the support is used.  Payments must usually be used for basic necessities of life.  However, if the spouse uses the payments for personal entertainment, dating, or substance abuse, a judge may declare that payments stop.  


Thirdly, spousal support can change if the spouse making the payments faces a drastic change in their employment and income.  If a spouse cannot afford the current amount of payments, they usually have to file a form with the court detailing reasons why their conditions have changed and what payments they feel are still necessary.