Spousal Support or alimony is one of the most difficult issues to resolve in a divorce case. Unlike child support, there is no formula that the court must use to determine spousal support – it is very fact intensive and often depends heavily on your jurisdiction and the Judge assigned to your case. In divorce cases, spousal support is often resolved at mediation or through informal negotiations between the parties. If the case were to go to trial in front of a Judge, the Judge would have to use the following factors to decide the amount and length of spousal support.
“(1) the past relations and conduct of the parties,
“(2) the length of the marriage,
“(3) the abilities of the parties to work,
“(4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties,
“(5) the parties’ ages,
“(6) the abilities of the parties to pay alimony,
“(7) the present situation of the parties,
“(8) the needs of the parties,
“(9) the parties’ health,
“(10) the prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others,
“(11) contributions of the parties to the joint estate,
“(12) a party’s fault in causing the divorce,
“(13) the effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status, and
“(14) general principles of equity.”
If the parties are able to agree on spousal support, they have the option of doing something called “non-modifiable” spousal support. This means that both parties forego their right to ask the court to increase or decrease the amount of support or the length of time that support must be paid – no matter what.
If the parties have a trial and the Judge makes the decision about spousal support, the Judge is not able to order “non-modifiable support.” This is something that can only be effectuated by the agreement of the parties. There are many factors that go into the decision of whether to agree to non-modifiable support depending on if you are the potential payor or the potential payee. Careful consideration must be given to this decision.
It is difficult for any attorney to quote an amount of support at the initial consultation because so many factors are unknown at the consult. Generally, the length of the marriage, earning capacity of the parties, education, and health of the parties are the factors that weigh the heaviest in spousal support determinations.
Talk to an experienced family law attorney to discuss your unique circumstances. Call 586-333-4686 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation with us today.