If you are seeking spousal support, during the divorce process, spousal support should be included as a term of the divorce decree. If the other spouse agrees to this term, there is no reason for the court to not agree to grant this provision. However, if the other spouse does not agree to this provision, it will be up to the court to decide whether spousal support is appropriate. In making this determination, courts will typically award spousal support only to a spouse who is financially disadvantaged.
In determining whether spousal support is appropriate, the judge will typically look at the standard of living enjoyed at the time of separation and will also consider any significant changes in resources that occurred prior to or during the trial. In looking at this standard of living, the court will ask whether the spouse seeking the support will be able to meet the appropriate standard of living without help from the other spouse. If the spouse seeking support cannot sustain the standard of living previously enjoyed, the court will evaluate the recipient spouse’s financial resources, needs, earning capacity, as well as the payor spouse’s ability to pay in order to determine what amount and what duration is appropriate for support. In some cases, the court will use income-equalization to calculate the level of support, however, this is generally only used when both spouses have lower levels of income.
After the court has determined if, and how much, the spousal support should be, the court then must determine how long the recipient spouse can receive the support. Generally, payments will last only as long as the number of years of the marriage existed. However, the court could order them for a shorter or longer period of time depending upon the circumstances. Similarly, if either spouse remarries, the court may reconsider the spousal support payments and adjust them accordingly.