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Spousal support basics and what to expect

Spousal support can unquestionably be one of the most significant concerns couples have when facing divorce. Just like many divorce concerns, there are options available through the family law process to develop a spousal support order, modify a spousal support order if needed and to enforce a spousal support order when needed. In some circumstances, it is not possible to modify a spousal support order so it is also important to keep that in mind. Spousal support can be a significant concern for both divorcing spouses so they should understand it as much as possible.

There are a variety of factors the family law court considers when developing an award of spousal support. Factors that may be considered by the court include the length of the marriage; the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage; the age of the parties; the ability of the parties to work; that ability of the parties to pay spousal support; if one party is responsible for the support of the other; the situation, needs and health of the parties; past relations and conduct of the parties; and general principles of equity.

There are different types of spousal support which determines the duration of spousal support and how long the paying spouses will be required to pay the recipient spouse. Rehabilitative spousal support may be paid for a period of time to help a spouse who is dependent transition to becoming financially self-sufficient. Alternately, if one spouse remained in the home to care for the family during a long-term marriage, and does not have job skills, spousal support may be awarded on a permanent basis.

The divorce process is designed to leave both spouses in as strong a financial position moving forward as possible so there are a variety of considerations to take into account when determining an award of spousal support and when trying to reach a fair outcome. Fortunately, the family law court provides resources to divorcing spouses that is it helpful for them to be familiar with when contemplating a possible award of spousal support.

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