How Long Can Your Spousal Support Last?

Some people are surprised that spousal support (or alimony) is still offered with a divorce. With more women entering the workforce and being self-supporting, is spousal support still needed? Read on to learn more about this issue and to find out how long this form of support can last for those who need it.

Still a Need?

Taking a look at how spousal support came about may help you to understand why it's still needed. Traditionally, the husband worked and earned money while the wife primarily remained at home and took care of the children of the marriage. Even when women worked, the wages and jobs were often a poor comparative to what their husbands earned. When those couples divorced, the wife was usually left in a financially precarious position and vulnerable to poverty, if not for spousal support.

Fast forward to today, and it may also the be the husband of the family that forgoes career and education opportunities to remain home and raise the children. There are still many families that decide that one parent should be the primary caretaker of the children while the other parent works, so this form of financial support is still needed and important.

Other issues for spousal support: The above reason for spousal support is not the only one, there are several factors that go into whether or not the judge orders support for the party that requests it and needs it.

1. Health: Some spouses are afflicted with various medical conditions making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to support themselves financially. Along those same lines, mental conditions can cause problems as well.

2. Age: If a spouse is more advanced in years, they could encounter more issues with employment.

3. Other miscellaneous factors: income of both parties, the standard of living for the couple prior to divorce, the type of state (community property or equitable distribution), and more.

How Long Does Spousal Support Last?

There are three different types of spousal support: temporary, permanent and rehabilitative.

1. Temporary support ends once the marriage does. It is meant to span the time from the separation to the final decree. In some cases, the temporary support order is simply "rolled" into the decree if the parties agree on the terms and amounts.

2. Permanent support is more likely to be ordered for spouses who are older or sick, and can last their entire lives. In some cases, a provision in the estate plan of the providing spouse continues the support after their deaths.

3. Rehabilitative support is more commonly used to give the spouse time to acquire education or job training and usually expires once a particular goal is met.

For more information, contact an attorney in your area.