On Spousal Support
I've had some cases recently that have had a heavy focus on spousal support, or what was once called alimony. One recent case was a three year marriage where the husband earned $70,000 and the wife was not working. Husband said wife quit working because she was an alcoholic. Wife said she quit working because she was disabled. Although only a three year marriage, it is likely husband is going to pay some support until wife gets disability, or somehow gets on her feet. In another case a wife came to me to review her settlement offer. She had been married for close to twenty years, was completely disabled after having a liver transplant and received $600 month in social security disability, and husband earned close to $70,000. Husband did not want to pay any support. He contended wife did not deserve it because she had not contributed to the marriage for the last seven years. We were able to negotiate spousal support for her that would allow her to manage a standard of living until husband retires and she is able to collect on his social security. The first rule regarding spousal support is that every case is different and the facts for each case control the results of the settlement or award. For one marriage of three years you may not expect a spousal support award, while for another it would be warranted. Likewise a marriage of twenty years. Spousal support is not ordered as a matter of law like child support. Child support is ordered by statute and has very specific guidelines. Spousal support is dependent on case law, the Judge on your case and your facts. There are eleven factors to consider when negotiating spousal support: the length of the marriage; the age of the parties; the health of the parties; the ability of one party to pay; the ability of the party who will receive support to work; past practices of the parties; the source and amount of property awarded; the present situation of the parties; the need of either party; the prior standard of living; and general principles of equity. Again, each case is different and you should consult an attorney before agreeing to anything.