Spousal support, also known as maintenance or alimony, is a payment made from one spouse or ex-spouse to the other. Unlike child support, which is intended to help pay for a child’s expenses, spousal support is intended to help pay for the ex-spouse’s expenses. It may be used to:
- Award income to the spouse who earned lower or no income during the marriage
- Help a spouse get back on his or her feet
- Help a spouse maintain a similar standard of living to the one held during the marriage
Factors Influencing Spousal Support
The court has the discretion to order spousal support based on many factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The relative income of each person, including income from investments and rental properties
- The relative earning potential of each person
- Whether one spouse’s earning potential was negatively affected by caring for children
- Any special financial needs one spouse may have, including education and medical expenses
- Equitable division of marital property
How Long Do You Have to Pay Spousal Support?
The duration of a spousal support order depends primarily on the length of the marriage.
- < 15 years: 15%-30% of the length of the marriage
- 15-20 years: 30%-40% of the length of the marriage
- > 20 years: 35%-50% of the length of the marriage
Do Women Pay Spousal Support?
More and more women have become the primary breadwinner in married households. In fact, 29% of married women now earn a higher income than their husbands. However, according to the most recent U.S. Census, a mere 3% of divorced Americans receiving alimony are men. This suggests that hundreds of thousands of American men are eligible for spousal support, but are not receiving money that is rightfully theirs.
Can a Spousal Support Order Be Changed?
Spousal support orders may be modified at the court’s discretion. If there is a considerable change in a person’s financial circumstances, he or she may submit a modification petition explaining the changes and requesting the court’s consideration.
Spousal Support and Taxes
For spousal support orders made in cases that began before December 31, 2018, support is considered taxable income for the recipient and deductible for the payor. However, the 2017 Tax Reform Act changes how spousal support payments are taxed. In cases beginning January 1, 2019, spousal support payments will no longer be deductible for the payor, and the recipient will no longer be required to pay taxes.
Consult an Experienced Port Jefferson Station Spousal Support Attorney
It can be difficult to get back on your feet financially following a divorce. Spousal support can help support you until you are able to support yourself. To understand your rights and receive the support you’re entitled to, speak with an experienced spousal support attorney. Contact the law offices of Winkler Kurtz, LLP, or call (631) 928-8000 to schedule your complimentary consultation.