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Also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, spousal support is often a point of contention in divorce cases. As a general matter, spousal support is typically determined by comparing the higher wage-earning spouse’s “ability” to support the financial “need” of the spouse with a lower income.
There are many factors a Court considers when deciding both the amount of any spousal support award, and the duration of it. Perhaps more than any other aspect of family law, the perception many have of what it means to pay alimony or to receive it is shaped by what they see on television or in the movies, or what they’ve heard from a friend or family member. These perceptions are often sensationalized beyond what is accurate and real.
The laws on spousal support and the theories behind them have undergone significant changes in many jurisdictions over the last few decades. Some jurisdictions have adopted alimony guidelines to be applied in certain circumstances, but others leave it to the discretion and wisdom of the Court to come up with spousal support numbers. This issue also should involve a thoughtful consideration of the tax ramifications involved with either paying or receiving spousal support.
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