Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment one spouse makes to the other after a divorce or separation. Spousal support often aims to help a deserving spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living and adjust to the economic changes caused by the divorce. It can also serve as a way for spouses to divide the value of their marital estate when one spouse wants to retain particularly valuable tangible assets.
Spousal support is often misunderstood, due to widespread myths and misconceptions that confuse many. This reality highlights the need for clarity and accurate information to help protect your interests if divorce is on your horizon or is already underway. Below are some of the most common misconceptions on this subject and the facts that counter them.
Myth: Spousal support is automatic after divorce
Spousal support is not automatically guaranteed after divorce. It is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as income, earning capacity, duration of the marriage and the financial needs of each spouse. In some cases, such as when both spouses are financially independent, spousal support may not be awarded unless each agrees to this arrangement as part of the property division process.
Myth: Spousal support is gender-based
Spousal support is not based on gender but on the needs and abilities of each spouse. Either spouse can request or be ordered to pay spousal support, depending on their income, assets, education, health, age and other factors.
Myth: Spousal support lasts forever
Spousal support is not necessarily a lifelong obligation. While there may be cases where long-term support is appropriate, the duration of spousal support is often determined based on factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each party and the ability of the receiving spouse to become self-supporting. Spousal support may end when a spouse becomes self-sufficient, remarries or other specific conditions are met.
Myth: Spousal support orders are set in stone
Many assume that spousal support orders cannot be modified once a judge issues them. However, spousal support payments can be subject to modification based on significant changes in circumstances, such as loss of employment, health issues or an increase in income.
Protect your legal and financial interests
If you have questions or concerns about spousal support, seeking informed guidance can help you understand how things work and can help you to safeguard your legal rights. This approach can also empower you to protect your financial well-being and interests, better ensuring a smoother transition to a new phase of life.