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Is spousal support standardized?

When you're going through a divorce and know that you will have to pay spousal support, the one thing you want to know is how much you'll pay over time. You may find guidelines online or factors that influence spousal support, but finding a simple answer won't happen. Why? No two situations are alike.

Unfortunately, there is no standard answer to how much you'll pay in spousal support or how long you'll pay it. In some ways, that's bad, since you can't prepare for what you'll be expected to pay. In other ways, it's great, because it means you can negotiate down the amount you'll pay out over time.

What are some considerations when determining spousal support?

There are a few factors that influence what you'll pay. They include:

  • How much you earn versus the amount your spouse earns
  • Your and your spouse's financial responsibilities
  • Your health and your spouse's health
  • The length of your marriage

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Some things, like the length of your marriage, may have more weight. For instance, someone who has been married for a year is not usually going to receive alimony or spousal support in the same amount as someone who has been married for 20 years.

Can you avoid paying long-term spousal support?

It is possible that you could avoid paying out long-term support. In most cases, spousal support is rehabilitative, which means that it isn't going to be paid forever. You might be ordered to pay for two or three years, for example. Spousal support also ends, in most cases, when someone remarries or is living with someone who is supporting them.

You may wish to ask about paying alimony in a lump sum as well. If you want to move on with your life without having to worry about making monthly payments, it's sometimes possible to make a payment for the full amount of alimony up front. This helps by giving your spouse what they need all at once, and it also helps by relieving you of monthly payments. A single payment means you no longer have to communicate with your ex-spouse about alimony following the divorce, which is a major benefit to certain people.

Spousal support is never going to be easy to predict, but you and your attorney can work to come up with a fair amount to offer the other party if it's necessary.

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