Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

What factors influence alimony or spousal support?

Spousal support can be a huge part of your divorce proceedings, whether you're going to give or receive payments. It's important to know what things are going to be considered, including the following:

1. The income levels of you and your spouse. This is perhaps the main factor, as the spouse who earns more typically has to pay the spouse who earns less.

2. How long the two of you were together. If you were only married for a few months, things are very different than if you spent the last 20 years together. Much of this comes back to the fact that one spouse may have given up a career, and it may be impossible to start again after a long marriage.

3. Where your kids are going to live. Now, child support is different than spousal support, and you can get or pay both, but the kids will be a factor. For example, if you're going to have the kids most of the time and it means you can't get a job, it could be easier to get spousal support for the rest of your bills.

4. External financial sources. Income isn't all that's considered. Maybe a parent left you a trust fund, for example, and you were just going to keep it and pass the money to your kids. That could play into the court's decision, as the money is technically yours no matter what you planned.

5. Your standard of living. The payments will be set up so you can maintain relatively the same lifestyle.

Make sure you know your rights, no matter which side of the equation you're on.

Source: Life, "What's Fair? Deciding on Alimony," accessed May 18, 2016

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