What is spousal support and how much can I get in a divorce?

Dear Liz,
What is spousal support and how much can I expect to get in my divorce?
– Just Curious
Dear Just Curious,
I always thought spousal support was a thing for fancy rich people who have become “accustomed to a certain lifestyle” but I am being told by some divorced friends that it is more than that. For women who were housewives or stay-at-home-moms spousal support can be the bridge that helps them transition back into the workforce.
But, what do I know? I went to art school then turned into a writer. So, I’ll let my pal Amy handle this since divorce is her wheelhouse.

Best of luck!

Here is what Amy had to say:

Spousal support is a court – ordered obligation of one spouse to pay money to support the other spouse after a divorce. The law of spousal support in Maine is very specific, but while no one can tell you how much you can expect to receive, consider these key factors: the length of the marriage, the ability of the payor spouse to pay and the need of the payee spouse.

So, if you have been married for 12 years and you each earn the same income, spousal support would unlikely be ordered.  If you have been married for 20 years and the wife has been out of the work force all those years, it is likely that husband will be ordered to pay spousal support. If you have been married for 16 years and the husband has become disabled and is unable to work, it is likely that an employed wife will be ordered to pay spousal support.

Spousal support can be modified over time if there are substantial changes in circumstances, such as a spouse retiring or becoming unable to work. If the payor gets a new job with a higher income, the court can increase spousal support. If the payee of spousal support gets a new job with a higher income or gets married, the court can reduce or eliminate spousal support. If you believe spousal support may be an issue in your divorce, I would recommend you seek the advice of a family law lawyer.

Good luck!

~ Liz

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