Getting divorced and wondering what your legal rights regarding spousal support (alimony) maybe? Contrary to what many people think, spousal financial obligations do not end with divorce. If the divorce leaves one spouse in significantly worse financial circumstances, a divorce court may order the comparatively well-off spouse to make regular payments to the other.

Read on for answers to common questions about spousal support.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support refers to a payment or payments one of the divorcing parties receives from the other in a divorce settlement. It has four different forms::

  1.       Permanent Spousal Support. Permanent support lasts until the end of the husband or wife’s life.
  2.       Temporary Spousal Support. Time or circumstances limit temporary support; for instance, it may end when the divorce process is complete, when the ex-spouse receiving the alimony remarries, or when the couple’s children are no longer minors.
  3.       Rehabilitative Spousal Support. Rehabilitative support is usually temporary and helps the receiving spouse regain financial independence; for example, the receiving spouse can use this support to get vocational training.
  4.       Spousal Support “in Gross.” This refers to a single total spousal support sum, given either in a one-time payment or a series of payments spread over a set period.

How Much Can I Receive in Spousal Support?

The divorce court will take into account many factors while reaching a verdict about spousal support. These typically include the length of the marriage, each spouse’s income, future earning potential, and possible misconduct of either party that may have caused the marriage to end.

Typically, the greater the disparity between the two spouses’ incomes and potential future earnings, the more likely the judge will order spousal support.

Who Pays Spousal Support?

The spouse in better financial circumstances pays support to the spouse whose income is lower or whose ability to earn an income is significantly inferior.

Significant financial inequality is the key point here. For instance, spousal support is much more likely to be awarded to a middle-aged woman who has been a housewife throughout her 25-year marriage and whose former husband has a successful business than in a divorce of two young professionals with more or less equal earning capacity.

How is Spousal Support Calculated?

Under West Virginia law, there is no set formula for calculating spousal support, so it’s impossible to know in advance how much the court may award.

The court will try to reach a fair decision based on each spouse’s circumstances. They will compare how much money one spouse needs to support themselves with how much the other spouse can reasonably be expected to pay.

The financial ramifications of divorce may affect your entire future. We at Hilliard & Swartz, a law office based in Charleston, WV, will walk alongside you during this stressful time, working to achieve a fair spousal support settlement and making sure your legal rights are protected.