How do you determine spousal support? 23 Answers as of November 09, 2011

My wife is asking for spousal support I agreed, because of a sickness that she has. I have been laid off from work, the only income I have is through unemployment. My question is how is spousal support determined and the length of support order?

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Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
In a contested divorce, spousal support is not more than 20% of your after tax income, limited to the shorter of 3 years of married 10 years or more ( 5 years if married 20 years or more ) and that amount of time reasonably necessary for the spouse to provide for her own reasonable minimal needs. IN other words, it is very limited and you did not provide near enough information to analyze this. That said, you can contractually agree to anything, though I suggest hiring a lawyer and at least knowing what is the worst/most the court could consider.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 11/9/2011
Law Office of James L. Miller
Law Office of James L. Miller | James Miller
The length of spousal support depends on the length of the marriage. If it is a long term marriage (one over 10 years spousal support can be ordered for life or until the supported person remarries. If it is a marriage under 10 years the court will determine how long support will last. If this is a temporary spousal support order it is determined through calculations. If this is permanent (final) spousal support the court must use the factors in Family Code 4320.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/7/2011
The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook
The Law Office of Cathy R. Cook | Cathy R. Cook
Unlike child support, there is no formula for spousal support in Ohio. Rather, the court examines a number of factors contained in a statute.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 11/7/2011
Ashman Law Office
Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
It's based in large part on financial details, and is in the discretion of the judge.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 11/7/2011
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law
Edwin Fahlen Attorney at Law | Edwin Fahlen
Spousal support (alimony) is calculated two different ways. First, if the Order is a temporary order during a Dissolution of Marriage, the court will generally use a "Guideline" set by Legislature which requires a complicated mathematical formula but simply calculated by a relevant computer program. Second, for a "permanent" (not meaning forever) there are at least fourteen issues for the court to consider, and the "computer formula" is NOT used. This is where good lawyering comes in. Considerations in part are lifestyle during the marriage, the payor's ability to pay, the payee's need, health of the parties, ability to be self supporting, ability/hindrances to work, education, etc. When you are dealing with fragile economic issues, competent legal representation should always be sought, as the subject matter of the litigation is so very important. One mistake here could cause the biggest adverse consequence of your life!
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/7/2011
    Reza Athari & Associates, PLLC | Seth L. Reszko
    There is no exact formula for spousal support. However, if you are no longer working you should file for a modification of the spousal support order due to change in circumstances ASAP. The Family Court Judge could reduce your obligation or maybe even stay your obligation until you are working again.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    It's hard to predict how spousal support is determined.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    It isn't possible to provide a simple answer to your question because every case involves a different set of facts and circumstances. When parties cannot agree on what is reasonable, a judge will have to decide after examining all the relevant factors, starting with comparing your wife's needs against your ability to pay.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Bruning & Associates, PC
    Bruning & Associates, PC | Kevin Bruning
    Spousal support is based upon many factors including the length of marriage, and (1) the income and property of each party, including marital property apportioned and non-marital property assigned to the party seeking maintenance; (2) the needs of each party; (3) the present and future earning capacity of each party; (4) any impairment of the present and future earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance due to that party devoting time to domestic duties or having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities due to the marriage; (5) the time necessary to enable the party seeking maintenance to acquire appropriate education, training, and employment, and whether that party is able to support himself or herself through appropriate employment or is the custodian of a child making it appropriate that the custodian not seek employment; (6) the standard of living established during the marriage; (7) the duration of the marriage; (8) the age and the physical and emotional condition of both parties; (9) the tax consequences of the property division upon the respective economic circumstances of the parties; (10) contributions and services by the party seeking maintenance to the education, training, career or career potential, or license of the other spouse; (11) any valid agreement of the parties; and (12) any other factor that the court expressly finds to be just and equitable.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    It depends on the type of spousal support. Generally, here are the factors used to determine the amount and duration of spousal support: The duration of the marriage; (ii) The age of the parties; (iii) The health of the parties, including their physical, mental and emotional condition; (iv) The standard of living established during the marriage; (v) The relative income and earning capacity of the parties, recognizing that the wage earner's continuing income may be a basis for support distinct from the income that the supported spouse may receive from the distribution of marital property; (vi) A party's training and employment skills; (vii) A party's work experience; (viii) The financial needs and resources of each party; (ix) The tax consequences to each party; (x) A party's custodial and child support responsibilities; and (xi) Any other factors the court deems just and equitable.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy
    Law Office of Cassandra Savoy | Cassandra Savoy
    Spousal support is first and foremost a function of the length of the marriage, the amount of money available for support, the ability of the parties to support themselves in a lifestyle similar to that of the marriage, the education of the parties, has she worked during the marriage? At the end of the day, the issue is what do you have available. While you might not have much now, the question is whether in a short time, you will regain employment and be able to pay more. Can she work? Is she entitled to benefits, e.g., medicare, medicaid?
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    It is unclear from you question whether final orders have been entered in your dissolution. If a Decree has been signed by the court establishing a court ordered obligation to pay spousal support (called "Spousal Maintenance" in Washington state), then you only option is to file a formal Petition for Modification of the Decree based on "significant change in circumstances" (i.e., your unemployment).
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    There is no fixed schedule for calculating maintenance. Some of the factors that the court is supposed to consider include: the ages of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the income of each of the parties, the work history of each of the parties, the health of each of the parties, and the education of each of the parties. The court uses these, and other factors to try to set a reasonable amount and duration of maintenance.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The 5 key factors that impact spousal support are: length of marriage, age of the parties, health history, earning capacity and standard of living during the marriage. You question and your specific circumstances require expert analysis by a skilled family law attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The answer to your question is not a simple one. Although on its face, it would seem as if some spousal maintenance is likely, it would require a review of all circumstances surrounding the case. Unlike Minnesota's child support statutes, there are no percentage guidelines to determine when spousal maintenance is appropriate or at what level. In Minnesota, trial courts have broad discretion in deciding whether to award maintenance and in determining its duration and amount. As a result, spousal maintenance often becomes one of the most contested issues in divorce proceedings. Currently, spousal maintenance awards are granted pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 518.552. Asa a result, it is important to hire a knowledgable attorney who may address the statutory factors included in the law.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    Spousal support is very fact-based; there is no formula. Therefore you need to consult with an attorney regarding your specific case and they can discuss with you the viability of an alimony claim under your specific circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    DiOrio and Sereni LLP
    DiOrio and Sereni LLP | Robert M. DiOrio
    Pennsylvania has promulgated Support Guidelines, dependent upon income and earning capacity. The support or alimony Order may last through the divorce,or thereafter,and under certain circumstances may even be permanent.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C.
    Law Offices of Paul A. Eads, A.P.C. | Paul A. Eads
    Dissomaster or X-Spouse. Depends on length of marriage.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Temporary support is calculated using a computer program called a Dissomaster. Long term support is based upon the marital standard of living (which is basically how the couple lived during the marriage and is not a set figure). There is no minimum or maximum period of time for support, but for marriages lasting less than 10 years, the rule of thumb is half the length of the marriage. There is often no set period of time for marriages longer than 10 years.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    If the issue needs to be resolved by a judge, he/she will apply California Family Code section 4320. I'd suggest that you look up such code section online (via Google, Yahoo, etc.). As you'll see, there are a number of factor a judge may consider to determine the duration and amount of support. A judge would also need the info as provided in each party's preliminary disclosure forms to do a support analysis. If you want to get an idea of the amount and duration, I recommend that you contact a local family law lawyer who has experience litigating support. Only those lawyers that have had sufficient experience litigating support truly understand how a court does the analysis.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 11/7/2011
    The Law Office of Nathaniel M. Smith, LLC
    The Law Office of Nathaniel M. Smith, LLC | Nathaniel M. Smith
    The quantity and duration of spousal support is determined by the judge or jury (if not agreed upon by the husband and wife in a settlement agreement). The factors to consider in determining the quantity and duration of spousal support include (in general) whether there is any fault behind why the couple is divorcing, the needs of the wife and her ability to provide for herself, and the needs of the husband and his ability to provide for himself. You should consult with a lawyer about your divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 11/7/2011
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