Spousal Support

Spousal Support AttorneySpousal support means any payment or payments to be made to a spouse or former spouse, or to a third party for the benefit of a spouse or a former spouse, that is both for sustenance and for support of the spouse or former spouse. “Spousal support” does not include any payment that is made as part of a division of the marital property.

The Domestic Relations Court may award reasonable spousal support to either party. During the divorce, the court may award reasonable temporary spousal support to either party. An award of spousal support may be property or money, and can be payable either in gross or by installments. Any award of spousal support terminates upon the death of either party, unless the order containing the award expressly provides otherwise.

In determining whether spousal support is appropriate and reasonable, and in determining the nature, amount, and terms of payment, and duration of spousal support, which is payable either in gross or in installments, the court shall consider various factors, including:

(a) The income of the parties, from all sources; 

(b) The relative earning abilities of the parties;

(c) The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the parties;

(d) The retirement benefits of the parties;

(e) The duration of the marriage;

(f) The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because that party will be custodian of a minor child of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;

(g) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;

(h) The relative extent of education of the parties;

(i) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties; 

(j) The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party; 

(k) The time and expense necessary for the spouse who is seeking spousal support to acquire education, training, or job experience so that the spouse will be qualified to obtain appropriate employment, provided the education, training, or job experience, and employment is, in fact, sought;

(l) The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;

(m) The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party’s marital responsibilities;

(n) Any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.

Modifying spousal support:

The court that enters the decree of divorce or dissolution of marriage does not have jurisdiction to modify the amount or terms of the alimony or spousal support unless the court determines that the circumstances of either party have changed and unless one of the following applies:

the decree or a separation agreement of the parties to the divorce that is incorporated into the decree contains a provision specifically authorizing the court to modify the amount or terms of alimony or spousal support. A change in the circumstances includes any increase or involuntary decrease in the party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, or medical expenses, or other changed circumstances so long as the change in circumstances is substantial and makes the existing award no longer reasonable and appropriate and the change in circumstances was not taken into account by the parties or the court as a basis for the existing award when it was established or last modified, whether or not the change in circumstances was foreseeable.