Spousal 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. After the Court determines the division of property the court may award reasonable spousal support to either party. During the pendency of any divorce the court may award reasonable temporary spousal support to either party.
When determining whether to grant permanent spousal support and if it is granted, the nature, amount and duration of the payments, the trial court is required to consider fourteen factors.
These factors are:
- The income of the parties, from all sources, including, but not limited to, income derived from property awarded as part of the property division in the divorce proceeding;
- The relative earning abilities of the parties;
- The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties;
- The retirement benefits of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because he/she will be custodian of a minor child or children of the marriage, to seek employment outside the home;
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage;
- The relative extent of education of the parties;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties, including, but not limited to any court-ordered payments by the parties;
- The contribution of each party to the education, training, or earning ability of the other party, including, but not limited to, any party’s contribution to the acquisition of a professional degree of the other party;
- 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;
- The tax consequences, for each party, of an award of spousal support;
- The lost income production capacity of either party that resulted from that party’s marital responsibilities
- Any other fact that the court expressly finds to be relevant and equitable.
Any award of spousal support shall terminate upon the death of either party, unless the order containing the award expressly provides otherwise.
In order to modify the amount or terms of the alimony or spousal support awarded by the court in a divorce or dissolution of marriage action there must be a change of circumstances of either party and the decree or a separation agreement (for divorce) or the separation agreement (for dissolution) must contain a provision specifically authorizing the court to modify the amount or terms of the alimony or spousal support.
What is a change of circumstance of a party? A change of circumstance includes, but is not limited to, any increase or involuntary decrease in the party’s wages, salary, bonuses, living expenses, remarriage of the recipient, or medical expenses.