How to Calculate Spousal Support

By Art Smithers

The questions of whether and how much spousal support to award are not determined easily. Courts are typically required to consider a laundry list of factors, including the need and ability to pay as well as the educational level and health of the parties. A separation driven by adultery may produce a substantially different support award than one where both parties are equally culpable. It is difficult to predict in advance the amount of support that a court is likely to award. However, it is possible to examine the various factors involved to determine whether you qualify for spousal support. Three commonly awarded types include temporary, rehabilitative and permanent support.

Step 1

Determine whether you are entitled to temporary spousal support. Examine your financial records and calculate both your total income as well as that of your spouse. Assume that you are living by yourself and calculate the amount you will need to pay your basic living expenses. These expenses should include rent, utilities, transportation costs and food, but don't neglect others such as credit card payments and entertainment costs. Review what your present expenses are and ascertain how they would change once you are living alone. Determine whether your income is sufficient to meet your costs of living. Review your spouse's income, subtract her living expenses and determine whether your spouse has the ability to pay an award of temporary support. The court is permitted to award temporary support before issuing the divorce decree.

Step 2

Examine whether you are entitled to rehabilitative support. If you are working, additional training will improve your earning capacity. If you are not working, review your work history and evaluate whether you are ably working, review your educational background and consider whether to return to work at present; if not, decide what type of additional education or training you require to allow you to do so. Review the costs of education or training and compare it with your spouse's income to determine whether your spouse has the ability to pay this type of support. Research the law of your state to determine the requirements. For example, a Florida court is permitted to award rehabilitative support if you can show that you have a "specific and defined rehabilitative plan."

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Step 3

Ascertain whether you are qualified to receive permanent spousal support. Review your standard of living as it has been during your marriage and evaluate whether your present ability to work will permit you to maintain that standard. Review also whether rehabilitative support will improve your earning capacity. A typical prerequisite might include a showing that your earnings capacity is insufficient to meet the "needs and necessities of life."

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
How Long Does a Marital Separation Agreement Last?


Related articles

How Is Alimony Calculated in Ohio?

Ohio's legislative code doesn't contain a mathematical equation for calculating alimony, also called spousal support. What it does include is a list of 14 factors that judges are supposed to consider when deciding whether to order alimony and, if so, for how long. These are somewhat loose guidelines, however, because they don't say how much weight a judge should give to each factor. Ultimately, it comes down to the opinion of the judge deciding each individual case.

Modification of a Chapter 13 Plan

Your financial situation may change after you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, making it necessary to modify your Chapter 13 repayment plan. If modification of your plan is not feasible, you may be eligible to receive a hardship discharge or convert your Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are having difficulty affording your Chapter 13 monthly payments, it is important to communicate this information to your Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee.

Divorce Maintenance in New York for a Spouse Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis

New York courts award spousal maintenance on a routine basis for spouses who are unable to support themselves financially after a divorce. If one spouse suffers from a significant medical condition such as multiple sclerosis, the court is permitted by statute to award lifetime support. Temporary support, known as "pendente lite" maintenance, is also available to help the financially dependent spouse during the divorce proceedings. Spouses who experience a decline in health after the divorce and need additional support can petition the Family Court for a modification.

Related articles

Minnesota Spousal Maintenance Laws

When spouses divorce, one spouse may be eligible for "spousal maintenance." This is money you receive from your ...

Ohio Laws on Spousal Support in a Marriage Dissolution

When married couples make the difficult decision to get divorced, the issue of spousal support can become quite ...

How to Calculate a California Alimony Payment

There is no guaranteed formula available for calculating an alimony payment in California. However, you can make a ...

Does a Divorce in North Carolina Go by the Number of Years Married for the Wife to Ask for Alimony?

In North Carolina, the length of your marriage strongly influences whether or not the judge will award alimony. Your ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED