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If you decide to divorce, a variety of issues will come to light during the process. For many divorcing couples, questions and concerns regarding spousal support are among the most important.

Depending on the circumstances, the family law court may order one individual to pay the other a predetermined amount of money each month.

If you’re working through your divorce in mediation, you can negotiate spousal support with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. In the event that your case moves to litigation, the judge will take a variety of factors into consideration:

  • The earning capacity of both individuals
  • The standard of living maintained during the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The health and age of both individuals
  • The tax impact of spousal support payments
  • Any evidence or history of domestic violence

For example, a marriage that only lasted one year is not looked at in the same manner as a long-term marriage, which is typically considered 10 or more years.

It’s a court order

Once there’s a court order to pay spousal support, it’s critical for the payor to stay current with payments. They must do so until the support order comes to an end or the court alters it for some reason, such as a change in financial circumstances.

If you’re responsible for paying spousal support and slip behind, you’re required by law to pay 10 percent interest, per year, on the past due balance.

Is a change necessary?

In some cases, the original spousal support order doesn’t stay in effect forever. For example, the order may require one person to pay the other for a predetermined period of time.

There are also situations in which a change may be necessary, such as if the payor loses their job and is no longer able to afford payments. Just the same, if the person receiving payments secures employment, they may no longer need the support.

Either individual has the legal right to request the court to modify or end the spousal support order.

If you’re preparing for divorce, learn as much as you can about spousal support. This will give you a clear idea of what to expect, including whether you’ll have to pay or are in line to receive payments.