Spousal support, also called alimony, is a sum of money usually paid by one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other. Unlike child support, which is calculated according to a formula, spousal support is decided on a case-by-case basis. The factors the court considers in awarding spousal support are:
- Past relations and conduct of the parties (fault)
- Length of the marriage
- Ability of the parties to work and their respective incomes
- Source and amount of property awarded to the parties
- Ability of the parties to pay spousal support
- Present situation of the parties
- Needs of the parties
- Health of the parties
- Prior standard of living of the parties and if either is responsible for the support of others
- Age and educational level of the person claiming spousal support
Regular or periodic spousal support is modifiable at any time. Spousal support may be increased, decreased or canceled based on showing of a change in circumstances that warrants a modification. When limitations are placed in the judgment regarding modification—whether amount or duration—specific language is necessary to ensure that the court will honor these limitations.
Varnum's Family Law Team regularly negotiates innovative and creative ways of structuring a spousal support award for both the payor of spousal support and the recipient, taking into account the current tax consequences and restrictions of such an award, discounting and buy-outs.