Spousal Support – Judges Barred from making Cookie Cutter Decisionsby Stewart D. Jenkins on 05/27/15
“An award of spousal support is a determination to be made by the trial court in each case before it, based upon the facts and equities of that case, after weighing each of the circumstances and applicable statutory guidelines.” In re Marriage of Kerr. Periodically the Legislature adds factors to be considered by courts, but ultimately the evidence presented about the individual circumstance of the parties determines how much spousal support will be paid; and how long it will be paid.
More than the length of the marriage is considered.
One spouse who devoted themselves to raising children and maintaining the household may now not have marketable skills to return to the workforce. One spouse may have a high earning ability giving them the ability to pay support.
But if those high earnings far exceed the standard of living that both spouses had during the marriage, a Court may limit the amount to be paid to the amount it will take to keep the supported spouse at (but not above) the marital station in life.
Health or disabilities are factors that must be considered, if evidence is presented.
Job opportunities or the willingness of a supporting spouse to provide funds for the education and retraining of a supported spouse to regain their earning capacity are all factors a Court will consider if properly presented.
An experienced family law lawyer is usually needed to present the complex factual and legal factors for a favorable spousal support, alimony or separate maintenance order during a divorce, dissolution of marriage or legal separation. Post judgment motions to modify or terminate support require just as significant evidence.