If you are going through a divorce, there are many matters to settle with your ex-spouse. Not only must you determine child custody and parenting time, divide financial assets, properties, and other belongings, you must determine whether either of you are eligible for spousal support payments. It may be difficult to ask for spousal support, but if you are in need, it can greatly assist you in getting back on your feet after a divorce. This article will go over the basics of spousal support, helping you better understand what it could mean for you. 

1. What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is money that is paid by one former spouse or partner to the other. It may be paid for a variety of reasons, but it is often paid to help the lower income spouse cover their living expenses. Spousal support is separate from child support, and spousal support can often contribute to the costs of caring for children. However, while children are automatically entitled to support, a former partner is not always entitled to spousal support. 

2. How are Spousal Support Payments Decided?

Spousal support payments can be determined either through negotiation as part of a separation agreement, or by a judge if an agreement cannot be made. In this case, the judge will decide the amount of spousal support and how long the support should be paid. It is a good idea to get legal advice before you sign any agreements made with a former spouse in order to be sure all is being done properly. 

3. How to Determine if you Are Eligible for Spousal Support

To be eligible for spousal support, you must have been married, lived together as a couple for at least three years, or have been in a relationship of some permanence for any length of time and have a child together. You will also need to demonstrate at least one of the following in order to be eligible:

Other factors may also be considered by the court, such as age, health, and childcare requirements. The amount of spousal support ordered will depend on factors such as income, children, age, roles during the relationship, mental and physical health, and the ability to support oneself. Often, a lawyer will be able to help determine the appropriate amount of support given your circumstances, based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. 

4. Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs)

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) suggest appropriate timelines and ranges of support in a variety of situations for those entitled to support. The SSAGs are not rules; they are only guidelines but are often used by lawyers and judges to determine how much spousal support should be paid, and for how long. For more information on the SSAGs, contact the Family Lawyers at Brace Law. 

5. What if my Ex-Spouse Won’t Pay Spousal Support 

If your former partner refuses to make spousal support payments, you can speak with them on your own or with the help of a mediator or lawyer. If they continue to refuse, you will be able to take your matter to court to enforce their obligation if the matter was not previously in court. If your matter is in court, you can seek further judicial intervention to enforce the order. The court can deduct support from your former spouse’s bank account, retirement savings, or wages.  

If it is not possible or safe to speak with your spouse, you may also need assistance from the courts or the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The FRO can enforce support by taking money directly from the payor spouse’s bank account, suspending the payor spouse’s driver’s license, or starting a court case against the payor spouse. This will not cost anything for the spouse seeking or receiving the support. 

If you are unsure whether you are entitled to spousal support in your divorce, the Family Lawyers at Brace Law can work with you through the process. Whether you are negotiating a separation agreement, going to court to finalize your separation, or looking to enforce an existing order, Brace Law’s experienced team can help you achieve the best result. When you work with Brace Law, you can Consider It Handled. 

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