Payment plans now available. Click here for more information.

Spousal Support 101: Who Pays, When And Why

Cassidy Chansirik
Cassidy Chansirik Student at U.C. Berkeley
Hi! I'm Cassidy, a rising junior majoring in Legal Studies at U.C. Berkeley who is passionate about the law, helping others, and all things coffee!
spousal support
We all know getting married doesn't mean living happily ever after. In Western cultures, more than 90 percent of people marry by age 50. But 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce, according to the American Psychological Association

And that was before the pandemic. 

Divorce rates spiked in China after the first wave of the pandemic. Experts at Reform Austin predict that couples in the United States may face the same fate. 

But divorcing doesn't mean you go your separate ways and never think of each other again. Usually, one party must pay the other - monthly or in a lump sum - after a divorce. 

According to the Census Bureau, 243,000 individuals received spousal support after divorcing. 

If you are considering divorce, it’s important to know that you may have to pay spousal support to your ex, or receive it, if the judge sees fit. 

What is spousal support?

Spousal support is financial support given monthly to your ex-spouse following a divorce or legal separation. The purpose of it is to limit any unfair economic impacts faced by the spouse who is non-wage earning or lower-wage earning. 

Spousal support is also referred to as alimony. 

Types of spousal support

There are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent. 

Temporary spousal support is given for a set amount of time, and is intended to lessen the impact of economic hardship of divorce for one spouse. 

Permanent spousal support is given until the receiving spouse remarries or the paying spouse dies. Currently, only Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and West Virginia have permanent spousal support in place.

How is spousal support decided?

The judge may use any of the following factors to determine whether or not to award spousal support: 
  • Length of the marriage
  • Need of the receiving spouse
  • Ability of the paying spouse to pay
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Standard of living
The amount of spousal support paid, and for how long, are also determined using a combination of the above factors. 

What else should I know about spousal support?

Because of the 2017 change in tax codes, spousal support is no longer tax-deductible for any divorce agreement signed after December 31, 2018

Furthermore, if your income has changed significantly because of the pandemic and you are no longer able to pay for spousal support, seek legal advice. You can face legal consequences for stopping payments. 

If you are in need of assistance for divorce or spousal support, Court Buddy can help you.

Court Buddy is here to connect you with an experienced and trusted lawyer who can help you at an affordable rate. The company assists with the management of your case and lawyer relationship. Your lawyer will assess your legal issue in a timely and confidential manner, explain why you need or do not need a lawyer, and only charge you for the legal services performed and associated out of pocket fees. This article is intended to convey general information and does not constitute legal advice.


Ready to get started? We’re here to help.

Related Blogs

  • Zoey Ellis
  • |
  • 13 August, 2020
Divorce Glossary: Important Legal Definitions Related To Divorce

If you're getting divorced, you're probably stressed out enough. The last thing you need to add to your to-do list is to spend a bunch...

  • Stephanie Cortes
  • |
  • 07 August, 2020
What To Bring To Court When You Are Trying To Get Custody

The legal term “child custody” is used to describe the rights and responsibilities of each parent or guardian when it comes to taking...

  • Stephanie Cortes
  • |
  • 30 July, 2020
Why You Need A Lawyer In Adoption Cases

In the United States, adoption is a process that requires court approval to establish a legal guardian relationship for a child (or an adult tech...

  • Stephanie Cortes
  • |
  • 30 July, 2020
What Do I Bring To Court When I’m Trying To Get A Restraining Order?

A restraining order is intended to protect an individual from further being harmed by an abuser. The court recognizes the person seeking a restra...

  • Chris Wojcik
  • |
  • 07 August, 2020
Top Questions And Answers About Restraining Orders

A Restraining Order (also sometimes referred to as a protection order) is a court order intended to protect a person in a situation involving dom...

  • Monique Bolsajian
  • |
  • 05 August, 2020
5 Tips For Representing Yourself In Court

Many courts are resuming trials virtually. Other courts are considering starting in-person trials with additional safety precautions in place.&nb...

Hablamos Español

Hablamos Español

Still have questions?

Call us toll-free at (866) 653-3017 to speak with a Client Success Specialist today.

Hablamos Español

Hablamos Español

Overall great experience from beginning to end! On the plus, I won my case!"

Overall great experience from beginning to end! On the plus, I won my case!"

Jonathan R, California

Court Buddy made it easy for me to handle my tough court case. I feel like I'm not alone."

Court Buddy made it easy for me to handle my tough court case. I feel like I'm not alone."

Silvia S, California