What is Spousal Support?

Aug 8, 2012 by

Spousal support refers to the practice of one member of the marriage regularly providing support for another after a divorce. This differs from child support as it is to help support and maintain the lifestyle of one half of the divorced pair rather than help care for a child produced from the relationship. Also referred to as alimony, spousal support is only paid in about ten percent of all instances of divorce.

Although individual states have different laws regarding spousal support, there are a few constants. The purpose of spousal support is to help aid a spouse who may not have worked outside the home maintain their life as they become accustomed to unmarried life. Husbands or wives who stay at home while the other spouse works are usually the receipts of spousal support.

There are no rules prohibiting men from receiving spousal support. Federal law requires equal consideration for both sexes. Historically, however, women have been the primary recipients of spousal support after a divorce. This is due to years of the US culture reflecting gender roles. However, more and more stay at home husbands are being considered for continued monetary support after marriage.

Most states will require those looking for spousal support to demonstrate financial need. Those who are found capable of supporting themselves outside of the marriage using either significant savings or other assets will not be eligible. Many prenuptial agreements will include provisions for spousal support after marriage. These contracts will usually supersede other arguments.

The days of permanent alimony are largely over. Most courts will award temporary maintenance rather than requiring one spouse to support the other forever. This temporary support will evaporate after a prescribed amount of time, giving the recipient enough time to find his or her feet and support themselves. Temporary support can be ordered to be paid by a court from as little as a few months to as long five or more years.

Spousal support is limited by the payers income. Courts will not allow an individual to be sent to the poor house via alimony payments. Most judges are reasonable and will work with the splitting couple to make the process as smooth as possible. Reviews of the process can be requested and investigations into whether the money is being spent properly can be performed.

Although divorce is never fun, spousal support can help to temporarily make life easier on an individual who has been out of the work force for some time. Nearly every state in the Union has tools in place to make sure after marriage support is handled in a fair, sensible manner.

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