If you and your spouse are planning to separate, the best way to make sure you have enough money for the future is to execute a written marital separation agreement. This agreement is like a contract that says how much you expect to receive in spousal support, how often payment should be made, and in what form.

Determining the Amount of Spousal Support

If you choose not to file the marital separation agreement in court, the agreement is treated as a private contract between you and your spouse. This means you can choose not to receive any spousal support, but most people do not decline all support.

On the other hand, if you do file the marital separation agreement in court, depending on the state, a judge may decide whether the amount of spousal support is acceptable. Different states used different contract law concepts in upholding the terms of the agreement, such as whether the amount of support is unfair or unconscionable, and whether one spouse was forced or coerced into the agreement.

When deciding on the amount of spousal support, keep in mind that the spouse who receives support must pay taxes on it, and the spouse that pays gets a tax deduction.

Can the Amount of Spousal Support be Changed?

Once the husband and wife have agreed to an amount of spousal support in a marital separation agreement, the amount of support can be changed. If the agreement was not filed in court, the support can be changed if both the husband and wife agree to a different amount. If the agreement was filed in court, as most are before divorce proceedings, the court may order the amount changed.

Do I Need a Family Law Attorney?

Calculating the amount of spousal support you should receive or pay can be tricky if you have a complicated financial situation. Talking to a family lawyer about what is a reasonable amount of support can be an important step in securing you rights during the separation process.