Are you the sole breadwinner in your marriage? Do you provide a particular lifestyle that your spouse cannot maintain on their own? These questions and others will determine whether spousal support, or alimony, is warranted and for how long. A divorce is a complicated process, and the worry of a continued financial burden can be a primary cause for concern. However, it should be noted that no judge or court wants to burden anyone unduly. Therefore, there are at least three considerations a court will make before determining the need, value, and term of spousal support.
- Length of Marriage
If a marriage lasted less than two or three years, then a judge will likely not consider spousal support. However, if the marriage was longer than three years, it is possible. Although, if a marriage was short, but one spouse was significantly dependent on the other, then a strong case can be made for support, despite it not meeting the three-year stipulation.
- Employment and Self-Sufficiency
Employment and self-sufficiency are also two very important considerations for a court when determining the level of spousal support required. For example, if one spouse works and the other does not, then a judge will likely find it necessary to order some support to help the unemployed spouse. However, if both parties are equally employed, meaning that they both earn about the same amount of money, then a court may rule that no support is needed. Although, it is possible that when both parties work, one makes a superior income, meaning that one party may need to support the other for a limited time.
- Hardship and Standard of Living
One of the most significant contributors to the expectation of spousal support is the idea of the standard of living. In other words, when married, a couple grows accustomed to a particular lifestyle, and that lifestyle requires a certain level of income to maintain it. If getting divorced will lead to a significant lifestyle change and the possibility of hardship, then a court is likely to impose alimony.
Spousal support is not meant to be taken as a punishment. The idea behind alimony is to ensure that both parties are able to leave the marriage fairly, and that they will not undergo any significant financial hardship due to the dissolution of marriage. Therefore, before filing for divorce, contact a family lawyer and discuss the expectation of spousal support. Find out is alimony is likely in your specific situation.