How is spousal support determined?

Ending a marriage should not leave one spouse living the good life while the other languishes in an impoverished state. South Carolina judges will try to avoid leaving one spouse in dire financial straits by awarding that spouse with support payments. These payments are intended to help a spouse who is not self-sufficient and hopefully allow the spouse time to attain financial independence.

If it becomes clear that a spouse faces serious problems with self-sufficiency, a judge will determine the amount of support the spouse should receive. As Forbes explains, the amount calculation is generally based on five different factors, including the need of the spouse who requires support. Other factors involve how long the spouses have been married, their current state of health, age, and their lifestyle prior to the divorce. The ability of the paying spouse to supply support to the other spouse can also be considered.

These are not the only factors that may come up in spousal support calculation. Generally, spousal support is determined late in the divorce after it is clear how marital property will be divided. The court may then look at the amount of non-marital assets the spouses possess, specifically the assets that belong to the two spouses that are not subject to division. And if the couple has children who are not minors, it may increase the need for spousal support.

Usually, spousal support has a termination date. However, support may end early if either the paying spouse or the receiving spouse passes away. It can also end if the receiving spouse remarries. Some forms of spousal support, such as rehabilitative maintenance, expire when the receiving spouse achieves financial independence. However, some spouses still are in no shape to be self-sufficient if spousal support ends unexpectedly with the death of the paying spouse. Options such as a life insurance policy should be considered to maintain support if unforeseen circumstances should happen.

This article is written to provide general information and is not intended as legal advice.