It is not unusual for one married spouse to earn significantly more than their partner. These arrangements can lead to significant financial wealth for some Dublin area couples — wealth that may seem to be in jeopardy if they divorce. The lesser earning spouse may be concerned on how they will provide for themselves. For this reason, a court may award spousal support — also known as alimony — to the lesser earning spouse to help both spouses retain a roughly equal standard of living post-divorce.
Factors considered in awarding spousal support
When deciding whether to award spousal support, for how long and for how much, the court will consider a variety of factors. The aim of these factors is to reach a result that is fair to both parties. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Each spouse’s income;
- Each spouse’s earning abilities;
- Each spouse’s health;
- Each spouse’s retirement benefits;
- How long the marriage lasted;
- Whether it is appropriate for one spouse to stay out of the workforce to care for a minor child of the couple;
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed while married;
- Each spouse’s education;
- Each spouse’s assets and liabilities;
- Whether one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education;
- The time it would take for the receiving spouse to obtain the training needed to become employable and employment is, in fact, pursued;
- Tax consequences rising from an award of spousal support; and
- Either spouse’s lost income capacity due to marital responsibilities.
These are only some factors the course may consider. The court can consider any other relevant and equitable factor.
Modifying spousal support
Spousal support, once awarded, can only be modified if two conditions are met. First, there must be a change of circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to, a raise or involuntary decrease in either spouse’s salary, living expenses or medical expenses. The change must be so great that the existing award is no longer reasonable and appropriate. In addition to a change in circumstances, the divorce decree or separation agreement in the case of a dissolution must specifically grant the court the ability to modify an award of spousal support.
Spousal support is key in a high-asset divorce
Spousal support is an important topic in a high-asset divorce. Both parties want to see that an award is fair and reasonable. High-asset spouses considering spousal support should make sure they understand their rights so they can make decisions that are in their best interests.