When a decision has been made to go through a divorce, enough time has usually passed for the two people involved to have reached points in their life where their finances are connected in numerous ways. And often, one party may end up being somewhat dependent on the other to some degree.
While child custody is often fairly understood by most couples, spousal support is something that isn't as commonly thought of. It's worth taking a closer look at the basics. Essentially, spousal support is a kind of support that may be ordered by the courts when one spouse has been relying on the other in a financial way. For example, if one spouse has been the sole breadwinner and only source of income in the family for years, then the other can be considered to have been dependent upon them.
In these instances, spousal support may be ordered. Under Pennsylvania law, a specific formula is used to make a determination about how much support might be owed. Factors may include:
- The income levels of both spouses
- The length of the marriage before its end
- The physical health of both spouses
- The mental health of each spouse
- Short and long term future income sources including insurance or retirement plans
- The overall standard of living that was experienced during the marriage
- Potential abuse that may have been inflicted
It's important to understand that spousal support is not something that is permanent. In general, it will be ordered for a length of time that is determined to be appropriate for the situation. Courts will focus on making sure that the length of time is long enough for the spouse that needs support to reach a point where they can support themselves financially. For instance, it may give them support throughout the time needed to go to school and earn a degree, then find employment that will sustain them.
Each situation is different, and talking to a divorce attorney can help you determine what to expect from a divorce and the spousal support order that may or may not be used.