If a spouse is a stay-at-home parent during the marriage or does not earn as much as their spouse, they may be entitled to spousal support from their spouse if they get divorced. Courts may award spousal support to people who may need financial support during and/or after the divorce. The court will consider several factors when determining what type of spousal support to award, if any; how much to award and for how long to award it. These factors include:
- The length of the marriage.
- Age and health of each spouse.
- Earning capacity of the lesser-earning spouse based on their education, work experience and job skills.
- Whether the lesser-earning spouse contributed financially or non-financially to helping increase the higher-earning spouse’s income capacity (e.g., making payments toward your wife’s education) during the marriage.
- Whether the lesser-earning spouse contributed to the marital household (financially or non-financially).
- Standard of living during the marriage.
Duration of alimony payments
If alimony is granted, the higher-earning spouse may be legally required to pay the lesser-earning spouse a certain amount of money each month. In some cases, you and your spouse may be able to agree on the duration of the payments. If you are unable to decide, the court will decide based on the factors listed above.
In most cases, spousal support will not be awarded on a permanent basis. The exact duration will depend on the specifics of your divorce. In many cases, the court will award temporary or rehabilitative alimony to give the lesser-earning spouse some time to go back to school or acquire additional job training. Longer marriages tend to have longer durations of alimony payments.
A family law attorney in Washington, D.C., can review your case and give you an idea of how spousal support may impact your divorce.