Spousal support is an amount of money one spouse pays the other to help ensure that the receiving spouse can live life as they did during the marriage. It is determined after assets have been divided and does not include any payments that are part of the property division or a distributive award.
Although spousal support is usually discussed as part of divorce proceedings, it may also be awarded in legal separation matters. Thus, if you are not dissolving your marriage but are living separately from your spouse, you may seek to collect spousal support.
Who's Eligible for Spousal Support in a Legal Separation?
A common misconception is that spousal support is awarded to the wife, meaning the husband must make monthly payments. However, a court can order either spouse to receive or pay it.
If you are seeking spousal support as part of your legal separation, you would have to demonstrate that you need financial assistance and your spouse can afford to make necessary payments.
You need not have been married for any set length of time to seek spousal support, but the duration of the marriage may be considered a factor when the judge determines how much to award.
Temporary and Permanent Spousal Support
Even before your legal separation proceeding has been completed, you can be awarded spousal support. This is referred to as temporary support and is valid until your matter resolves.
When your separation is finalized, the court may order permanent spousal support.
How Will Spousal Support Be Determined?
Just as in a divorce proceeding, with a legal separation, the court will consider several factors to determine how much to award in spousal support. To ensure that the amount is fair, the court assumes that both spouses equally contributed to income during the marriage.
Some of the things the judge may look at include:
- Earnings capacity
- Physical, mental, and emotional conditions
- Retirement benefits
- Length of marriage
- Ability for either spouse to seek employment
- Standard of living during the marriage
- Assets and liabilities
- Contributions of either spouse to the education, training, or earnings of the other
- Tax liabilities
- Lost income
Can Spousal Support Awarded as Part of a Legal Separation Be Modified?
Spousal support can last for a set or indefinite period. During that time, your or your spouse's financial circumstances might change, requiring a modification of spousal support.
To have your support payments modified, you must receive an order from the court. The court will consider a modification if substantial changes to your or your spouse's income or expenses make the current order unreasonable.
A lot must be considered when seeking spousal support, whether as part of a divorce or legal separation. If you have more questions about the process and what you can expect, our Dayton lawyers are ready to explain everything in clear and understandable terms.
Schedule a free case evaluation with L. Patrick Mulligan & Associates, LLC by calling (937) 685-7006 or submitting an online contact form today.