What Factors Do Courts Look At When Awarding Spousal Support?

If you are facing the possibility of a divorce, you must be wondering if you have to pay or seek spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony. However, the first question you should be asking yourself is whether the alimony is even appropriate or necessary. Different states have different ways of determining whether spousal support is right or not after a divorce.

Note that whether or not you’re eligible for spousal support heavily depends on your economic needs. Courts will generally look at each spouse’s monthly income and compare them against the expenses of the person seeking spousal support to determine their economical needs. Here the most determining factors of successful alimony.

Income and Property Ownership of Both Parties

You and your spouse will need to show the court your income as well as your expense. You might need to gather bills to show your living expenses. Make sure you factor in things like groceries and personal care bills. The other party will also do the same and submit all the financial documents required to the court. You may also need to find a way to get information about your spouse’s income and expenses, especially if you know they earn more than they’re telling. The courts will check whether:

  • The recipient can meet their needs
  • The recipient’s ability to meet those needs
  • The spouse to pay has the capacity to provide for those needs

The Needs of Each Party

Remember needs are simply “needs” and not mere luxuries. If the payor spouse used to pay for specific needs but stopped due to lack of finances, spousal support, in this case, will favor them as they will be deemed incapable of providing what the recipient wants. Spousal support is generally based on the ability and needs to pay. There are exceptional cases where a marriage ends with one spouse critically injured or disabled. If the spouse is found to be the reason for the recipient’s greater need for assistance, the recipient is likely to be awarded spousal support.

Realistic Current and Future Earning Abilities of Each Party

The court might also need to know the education level of each spouse to determine their future earning capabilities. They will carefully weigh the potential income of each party in the future while also looking at their expenses. The substantial disparity in the earning capacity is a massive factor in any court’s reasoning when awarding maintenance. The spouse requesting maintenance is also expected to seek appropriate employment. However, if the recipient spouse used to be a stay-at-home parent and specifically handled child-rearing duties, the person may be awarded spousal support.

Duration of the Marriage

Courts generally want to know whether the marriage was short or long-term. The longer the marriage, the lengthier the maintenance. However, the support never lasts long as both parties in long-term marriage enter their senior years. The payor spouse may no longer work or generate the same income due to health and old age.

Impairments That Can Prevent Future Earning Ability

A spouse who may seek support because their earning ability is affected by impairment is likely to be awarded spousal support. Again if the person did not obtain education or training and may have had to put off job opportunities due to their devotion to their marriage and responsibilities associated with the same, they may be awarded spousal support but encouraged to find employment or education to increase their earning potential.

Standard of Living Established During The Marriage

The standard of living when the marriage was in existence plays a significant role in determining whether the spouse requesting maintenance should be awarded or not. If the person earns enough to maintain the same standard of living they were used to, then they do not qualify for alimony.