Spousal support can be awarded temporarily (pendente lite) by the court for the support and maintenance of a party during the divorce process. Permanent support can be ordered in a variety of ways: the support can be paid in periodic payments for a defined duration, in periodic payments for an undefined duration, or in a lump sum award, or in any combination thereof. Adultery, proven by the evidence, can be a bar to receiving spousal support. However, the court can still award such support if, through clear and convincing evidence, the court determines that denial of an award of support and maintenance would constitute a manifest injustice, based on degrees of fault in the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of the parties.
A party may also maintain a reservation for an award of future alimony payments, in addition to, or in lieu of a current award. The rebuttable presumption is that such reservation would last for 50% of the length of the marriage. The court must examine certain factors in fashioning an award of permanent spousal support and to determine an amount and duration of payment.
The factors are as follows:
- The obligations, needs and financial resources of the parties, including but not limited to income from all pension, profit sharing or retirement plans, of whatever nature;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age and physical and mental condition of the parties and any special circumstances of the family;
- The extent to which the age, physical or mental condition or special circumstances of any child of the parties would make it appropriate that a party not seek employment outside of the home;
- The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
- The property interests of the parties, both real and personal, tangible and intangible;
- The provisions made with regard to the marital property under equitable distribution;
- The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
- The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his or her earning ability;
- The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market;
- The extent to which either party has contributed to the attainment of education, training, career position or profession of the other party; and
- Such other factors, including the tax consequences to each party, as are necessary to consider the equities between the parties.
Spousal support can be either modifiable in the future or non-modifiable, depending on the terms of an order or agreement. The death of either spouse terminates spousal support. Unless otherwise contracted to specifically, remarriage of the payee terminates spousal support. Cohabitation of the spouse receiving support in a situation analogous to marriage for a period of more than one year, will also terminate spousal support unless such is deemed by the court to be a manifest injustice to the payee.
If you have questions about the spousal support, please call The Bowen Law Firm for an in-depth consultation regarding the specifics of your case.