Marriage ties two people together. Not only do spouses share a life together, they rely on the support of one another. Thus, when a marriage ends, this reliance on support is sometimes still needed. Financial support, otherwise known as alimony, is often sought during a divorce to help address financial concerns post divorce. This is especially true in matters where one spouse is the breadwinner and the other spouse was reliant on the income of the other spouse to live the life they were leading.

The award of alimony or spousal support in the divorce process could occur when there was an agreement between the spouses, usually in a pre or post-nuptial agreement, or by a judge through a divorce legal proceeding. Alimony is different from property division, and it is a stand-alone issue that is based on the unique factors of the marriage.

Alimony is designed to limit any unfair economic effects a divorce might have on a spouse. It is a way to provide an income to a non-wage-earning spouse or the lower-earning spouse as a means to aid in the continuation of the standard of living he or she had during the marriage.

The amount of alimony paid and the length of time it is paid are also unique to the marriage as well. For example, if a spouse chose to forego an education and career in order to stay home as a homemaker or caregiver, then alimony may be a higher amount and could last for a significant amount of time. Other times, spousal support may last only until that spouse obtains an education and a career.

Common factors used to establish alimony include the age, physical condition, emotional state and financial condition of the former spouse, the length of time required for the recipient to obtain the necessary education or training o become self-sufficient, the standard of living experienced during the marriage, the length of the marriage and the ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient spouse while also still supporting him or herself.

Whether you are requesting alimony, seeking enforcement of a current order or are taking steps to alter a current support order, it is important to understand how best to navigate these matters. Because alimony can be a very important and necessary financial support to obtain, one should take the time to fully understand their rights and options when it comes to securing alimony.