What Options for Spousal Support Are There?

Spousal support is financial support given by the payor to the recipient. Spousal support seeks to prevent situations where the high-income earner can continue to enjoy their standard of living after the separation. In contrast, the lower-income earner’s standard of living takes a drastic decline.

The focal objective of spousal support is to help the parties maintain the standard of living they were accustomed to during the cohabitation or marriage.


Determination of Quantum of Spousal Support

Spousal support is, without a doubt, the most litigious area of family law.

The level of uncertainty in determining fair amounts of spousal support and the inconsistency of the courts in their orders have prompted several scholars to produce the “Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines” (the SSAGs). Though much more complex than the Child Support Guidelines, the SSAGs provide spousal support ranges for spousal support awards.

Generally, basic data is entered into software widely used by family law practitioners. This data includes the parties’ ages on the date of separation, the number of children of the relationship, and the parties’ incomes. This data will then produce spousal support ranges – low, medium, and high.

Most family law lawyers accept the ranges and will litigate or advocate within the ranges prescribed by the SSAGs.


Entitlement of Support, Ability to Pay and Duration of Support

With the exception of quantum, litigation or advocacy typically involve entitlement to spousal support, ability to pay, and duration of spousal support.  Entitlement and ability to pay, are determined on a case by case analysis, which will not be discussed herein. Generally, the longer the relationship, the longer the duration of the spousal support award.

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