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Spousal Support: What is it and do I Qualify?

Divorced woman holding envelope with alimony, savings for single mom, allowance

Spousal support is the money paid by one spouse to the other after they separate or divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to:

  1. help a spouse become financially stable
  2. prevent a spouse from experiencing serious financial difficulty due to the breakdown of the relationship
  3. provide a similar lifestyle for children of the marriage
  4. compensate one spouse for being financially disadvantaged during the relationship, for example, if one person stopped working to take care of children

When a court has ordered spousal support it is paid by the spouse with the higher income to the spouse with the lower income.

Do I qualify for spousal support?

You may be entitled to spousal support if you were either:

  • married
  • lived together as a couple for at least three years
  • were in a relationship of some permanence for any length of time and had a child together

You will need to demonstrate at least one of the following:

  • You had responsibilities during the relationship that prevented you from building your own career, such as taking care of children or helping your spouse build their career.
  • Your separation or divorce left you in need of financial support and the other spouse has enough income and assets to pay support.
  • You have a legal agreement that says you will get spousal support if you separate.

The court may also consider factors, such as your age, health and childcare requirements.

How do I receive spousal support?

Spousal support is not a given or automatic payment after divorce, there are two ways for you to receive it. 

The first is to negotiate for it as part of a separation agreement. This is done in the discussions prior to the final verdict of the separation agreement.

The second is you may ask a judge to decide and they will determine an appropriate amount as well as the duration of the payments


Since every situation is different, it’s hard to give a quick answer to questions related to divorce. 

Taking the time to talk to a divorce lawyer at Epstein & Associates about your concerns is a great place to start. 

If you need help to determine eligibility for spousal support or if you want to understand your obligations, contact us to speak to an expert in divorce and separation.