When a married couple chooses to end their marriage through divorce, the court may award spousal support to one spouse. Spousal support is sometimes referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance. It refers to payments that one spouse makes to the other in order to help him or her maintain their quality of life after the marriage has ended. Spousal support can be based on an arrangement between the couple, a prenuptial agreement, or a decision by the court itself.
How Is Spousal Support Awarded?
Spousal support is similar to child support in that it is awarded to a person who needs income support from a former spouse. Unlike child support, which in most states is awarded according to very specific guidelines, courts have much more discretion in determining if spousal support is appropriate or not. The court also decides how much spousal support will be awarded and for how long payments will occur. Courts consider the following factors in making decisions about spousal support: