What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, also known as alimony or spousal maintenance, is a legal obligation for one spouse to provide financial support to the other spouse after divorce. It is intended to help the lower-earning or non-working spouse maintain their standard of living that they had during the marriage.

This type of support is different from child support, which is meant to financially support the children of the divorced couple. Spousal support, on the other hand, is designed to help the recipient spouse become financially independent after a divorce.

Spousal support is not automatically granted in every divorce case. The court will consider a variety of factors before deciding whether or not to award spousal support. These factors may include the length of the marriage, the earning potential of each spouse, the standard of living during the marriage, and any sacrifices or contributions made by one spouse for the other.

Types of Spousal Support

There are different types of spousal support that can be awarded depending on the specific circumstances of a divorce. These include temporary support, rehabilitative support, permanent support, and lump sum support. Temporary support is typically awarded while a divorce is pending and ends once a final decision is made.

Rehabilitative support is awarded to help the recipient spouse gain job skills or education in order to become financially independent. Permanent support may be awarded if the recipient spouse is unable to become self-supporting due to age, illness, or disability. Lump sum support involves one single payment rather than ongoing payments.

The duration of spousal support can also vary. In some cases, it may be ordered for a specific number of years or until a certain event occurs, such as the recipient spouse remarrying or obtaining a job. Other times, it may be left open-ended and can be modified if circumstances change.

Considerations for Spousal Support

When determining spousal support, the court will take into account various factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and any prenuptial agreements. Additionally, it is important to note that spousal support can be tax-deductible for the paying spouse and taxable income for the recipient spouse.

Invest in a Family Law Attorney

Navigating the complexities of spousal support can be challenging, which is why it is important to seek the guidance of a family lawyer. A family lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations regarding spousal support and advocate for your best interests during divorce proceedings. They can also assist in negotiating fair terms for spousal support or modifying existing arrangements if necessary.


Spousal support plays an important role in helping individuals adjust to their new financial circumstances after a divorce. It is a complex and often contentious issue, but ultimately aims to ensure that both parties are able to maintain a reasonable standard of living in the aftermath of a marriage. If you are going through a divorce and have questions about spousal support, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney for guidance on your specific situation. They can help you understand your rights and options when it comes to spousal support. Remember, every divorce case is unique and the court will consider various factors before making a decision on whether or not to award spousal support.

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