Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is meant to help a financially dependent ex-spouse become independent. With that goal in mind, the support order can be on a temporary basis, or may end once the receiving spouse begins cohabiting with a new partner, or reaches some sort of educational or career milestone. A court will determine the amount of alimony required based on several factors, including the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage.
Determining this factor is more complicated than some may believe. It does not mean the receiving ex-spouse will necessarily get to live exactly as they did before the divorce, in the same home, with all the same advantages they enjoyed during the marriage. Rather, the standard of living is one of several factors a court will consider when determining how much spousal support the dependent spouse should receive.
Factors to consider
When courts are determining the amount of spousal support required, they consider factors such as:
- The financial resources of each spouse
- The ability of each spouse to meet their needs independently
- The standard of living established during the marriage
As you can see, the standard of living is just one of these factors. If the dependent spouse is able to meet their own needs independently without spousal support, a court will likely find the support is not necessary. Likewise, even if the court determines that the dependent spouse does need support to enjoy the same lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage, the court won’t require spousal support if the more independent spouse cannot afford it.
There are a number of other factors to consider, and each case presents its own unique issues as well. For instance, if one party has primary custody of the couple’s young children, and is unable to work full-time because of childcare needs, this will strengthen the argument they deserve spousal support.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to spousal support. Those who are going through divorce can benefit from speaking to an experienced attorney about their options.