Understanding the Nuances of Spousal Support

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Understanding the Nuances of Spousal Support

After a divorce goes to trial, the court may award spousal support based on an agreement between the parties involved in the divorce or based on a decision by the judge. Spousal support typically comes in the form of alimony or palimony, depending on the nature of the divorce. Both forms of spousal support have their unique criteria to determine the amount owed.


Alimony is typically awarded to a spouse who either has lower income or no income as a way of mitigating any unfair economic impacts after the divorce. Alimony is determined by a number of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The standard of living maintained during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The financial, emotional, and physical condition of the spouses
  • The age of the spouses
  • The ability of the paying spouse to provide alimony while still supporting themselves

Alimony is usually ordered to be paid for as long as it is necessary for the recipient to become self-supporting. However, if the court does not place a termination date on the order, the paying spouse must continue to make payments. If the recipient spouse remarries, alimony payments are terminated. If the paying spouse passes away, alimony may still be paid from their estate or life insurance policy.


Palimony is very similar to alimony, except it applies to cohabitating couples who are unmarried. While palimony rulings vary from state to state, there are some basic factors considered when asking for palimony payments after a relationship dissolves:

  • The length of the relationship. Palimony is more likely to be awarded if a couple has cohabitated for 10 years or longer.
  • Whether one partner was the sole provider of income for the household.
  • The ability for the partner seeking palimony to support themselves.
  • If there were written agreements or verbal promises made by one partner to support the other.
  • And sacrifices made by one partner to support another or put another through school.
  • Any significant differences in the income of the partners.

Spousal support is a complex matter, with emotional, psychological, and financial ramifications. Contact the team at Goodwyn Law Firm LLC and work with lawyers who will be on your side at every step to help you get the outcome you seek.

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