Spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, can be a contentious issue in any divorce. Determining whether you will be ordered to pay support and for how much and how long is a two-step process.
To receive support, a spouse must be eligible, although parties are free to make support agreements after their divorce outside of court. An eligible spouse will need to be lacking sufficient property after the divorce is finalized to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. In addition, to be eligible, either the paying spouse needs to have been convicted of an act of ”family violence” during the marriage or while the divorce was pending, or the supported spouse is incapacitated, is the custodial parent of a child, or was married to the other spouse for at least 10 years.
Is my spouse eligible for support?
After eligibility is established, courts will need to look at several factors to determine if a spouse is deserving of support. Courts will investigate the spouse’s educational background, duration of the marriage, age of the requesting spouse, employment history, infidelity, contributions to the family as a homemaker, efforts to find employment, and other variables.
From here, the court will determine how much, if any, support the spouse deserves.
If the marriage lasted 10 years or more, the court can award up to 5 years of support. Marriages lasting between 20 and 30 years can mean up to 7 years of support for one of the spouses. Up to 10 years of support can be awarded for marriages of 30 years or longer.
Finally, spouses who are unable to support themselves adequately due to becoming mentally incapacitated or because they are the custodial parent for a child requiring considerable care and supervision are eligible for indefinite spousal support.