Spousal support is a court-ordered payment from one former spouse to the other. Spousal support is not based on gender, but rather which spouse is less financially stable because the other spouse has been the primary earner in the family.   

The ability to obtain spousal support, or alimony, depends entirely on the state you are in. Some states have what is called spousal maintenance, but they all generally have the same principle. As the number of stay-at-home fathers rise and women become primary breadwinners, men are increasingly being awarded spousal support.

States vary, but, in a divorce, judges typically consider the following when determining whether a spouse is eligible for spousal support:

  • How long were the parties were married?
  • What’s the earning potential of each spouse and can each keep the same general standard of living as when married? Educational background plays a factor here, as well as disabilities of the spouse and how it affects their earning capabilities.
  • Did one spouse stay at home with the kids while the other’s career advanced?
  • Did one spouse sacrifice his or her own education/career opportunities to advance the other spouse’s career?

The above list is not exhaustive or inclusive. Spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis and depends entirely on the facts involved.

How Do You Get Spousal Support?

In order to obtain spousal support, the parties involved can agree upon the award in a prenuptial agreement or divorce settlement agreement. Generally speaking, if an agreement is reached, the parties can agree to give spousal support on any terms they wish.

Most of the time, the parties are not able to agree on the subject of spousal support and, in that case, the decision will come directly from the judge presiding over the divorce case. 

Do Men Face a Gender Bias?

Not really. As mentioned above, the laws are not based upon gender and are going to apply to men the same they do as women.  The primary reason women receive spousal support more than men is simply because women have traditionally been the spouses staying at home with the kids or providing some sort of non-financial support in order for the husband’s career to advance.

If I Have Custody of My Children, do I Automatically Get Spousal Support?

No.  Regardless of who has custody of the parties’ children, spousal support will be based entirely on the spouse in need and not whether the children are in their care. Child support is for the children and given to the spouse that has primary custody. Spousal support is specifically for the spouse alone.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

Yes. Obtaining spousal support isn’t easy as most state laws can be limited. Hiring a family lawyer to help you obtain spousal support can be one of the most important decisions you will make.