Alimony, spousal support and maintenance all mean pretty much the same thing, which is the money that one spouse regularly pays to another after a divorce. The reasons, amount, and length of time vary, however.
The idea behind spousal support is that many times the spouse who earns less, or who doesn’t work at all, does so by choice for the benefit of the household. A classic example is a stay-at-home parent. They are out of the workforce and maybe have been for some time. They simply don’t have the same earning potential (at least in the immediate future) as their spouse. The married couple likely made this choice about how to balance the needs of their family. It was this decision that led the stay-at-home parent to forgo a career, and possibly at the same time, allow the working parent to succeed and move up in his or her job. The concept of spousal support recognizes this common situation. The spouse with no job and less earning potential could find it difficult to meet their basic needs without it.
The amount of spousal support the court orders is based on the needs of the spouse receiving the support as well as the means of the spouse paying. There is no set amount. The parties can agree on how much the support payments will be, or the court can decide. It’s not a good idea to agree to pay (or receive) a set amount without talking with an experienced divorce attorney. You need to know if the other side is taking advantage of you. Sometimes, temporary spousal support is ordered while a divorce is in progress.
Spousal support can go on for a couple of years, or forever. It depends on the spouses’ ages, needs, health, ability to work, and the length of the marriage. Spousal support always ends, however, if the spouse receiving payments gets remarried. The length of spousal support can be negotiated. Don’t trust your spouse’s attorney to give you any advice. It’s not their job, and in fact it’s unethical for them to advise you while having your spouse as their client. Hire your own attorney – someone you can trust to work hard for your best interests.
Is this confusing? It can be. If you would like a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, fill out the form on the right side of the page or call us at (312) 346-5320.