Alimony or spousal support is often a part of a divorce agreement. Typically, you will find it is prevalent in higher asset divorce cases where one spouse may not have worked during the marriage and the other spouse is a high wage earner. The ultimate goal of spousal support is to provide the lower-earning spouse with supplemental income to lessen the decrease in his or her standard of living.
According to NJ.com, spousal support is really about need. The court is not looking to punish one spouse for earning more or for any other reason when awarding support. The goal of the court is to help the divorcing couple be more financially equal after the divorce.
There really is no formula for determining spousal support, but a court considers factors relating to earnings and the ability to earn. It also looks at factors related to the marriage, such as the length. A court is looking to see how finances worked during the marriage. It may uncover that one spouse worked to put another through school and then became a stay-at-home parent after the spouse got his or her degree.
The court also considers each spouse’s earning ability. This may require considering any health issues or advanced age. It could include education levels and past work history.
Sometimes, the court will award spousal support payments for a certain amount of time during which the spouse receiving payments will build his or her professional or trade skills through education or training. The goal is to allow the lower-earning spouse to improve his or her finances enough to no longer need support.
In other cases, the court may feel a high-earning spouse should pay the other spouse for a longer time with no consideration about the lower-earning spouse’s potential to increase his or her income. The main point is that the court will look at every situation on its own merit and make decisions based on the factors of that specific marriage.