What is fair spousal support or alimony?

Issues in divorce obviously have a tendency to create conflict and spousal support is at the top of the list. If you and your spouse cannot come to agreement on the amount of spousal support to be paid, the length of time it will be paid, and the conditions, than the court will decide this for you. A word of advice; letting the court decide will only cost more money and will add an element of surprise that can be financially and emotionally traumatic. Also keep in mind that not all divorces include spousal support agreements.

If possible, you and your spouse should come to an agreement on the spousal support arrangements. The arrangements will be part of your Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement. The following issues are typically defined in the agreement:

  • the amount of support to be paid
  • how often it will be paid and when
  • the name and address of the spouse who is receiving the support
  • where the support payments are to be mailed
  • the social security number of the receiving spouse
  • insurance policies and medical coverage
  • future Conditions (for example: if spouse remarries)
  • payment assurance
  • recourse if payments are not made

Specifying the amount and the conditions is the basis of a spousal support order. A fair amount is typically an amount that would allow the spouse to continue living in a manner that existed prior to the divorce.

The payment of support will also be contingent on certain conditions;  for example:

  • the spouse may only receive the support payments until job training or education is achieved
  • the spouse may only receive the support payments as long as they have not remarried

As an alternative to making several support payments over a lengthy period of time, spouses may decide  on a Lump-Sum Agreement, in which the receiving spouse is paid  a single large sum of money. The lump sun is considered a final payment.