How can I know if I will pay or might receive spousal support?

There was a time, not too long ago, when the presumption was that if a married couple divorced, the man would be on the hook for paying support, or alimony, to the woman. That model of spousal support was based on the notion that the man typically provided the main source of income to the family. It also didn't assume that the woman should be put into the situation of having to be self-supporting.

Times have changed in New Jersey and everywhere else. Married couples aren't always husband and wife. The union might be husband and husband or wife and wife. In addition, the prevailing norm for U.S. households has both parents working. Potential spousal maintenance remains an important factor in many divorces, but the focus now is creating a fair plan that is realistic for each side.

Factors informing support decisions

The laws of any given state will vary, but awards of alimony depend on clearly establishing needs and the ability of each spouse to meet their particular individual needs. If circumstances indicate a former spouse can't survive the divorce without financial help, the spouse in the better financial position will usually be expected to pay.

In some cases, such as when one spouse has been out of the job market for a period of time, the support might be temporary – lasting only as long as it takes for the spouse in need to regain his or her footing. In others, the support might be permanent. This might be expected if the situation of the spouse in need is such that he or she will never become self-supporting.

So many factors influence making a reliable determination of appropriate support. This is yet one more reason why consulting an experienced attorney is always recommended.

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