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Paying Spousal Support During Separation

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You’ve packed your bags, moved out, moved on. Now there’s just spousal support to calculate.

What!? Why should you support your former partner? You have expenses – rent, a car, Internet fees.

Your relationship may be over, but the financial obligations aren’t. Like child support, your contributions help a spouse with limited income to survive the separation aftermath.

You could owe spousal support provided you:

  • had an ongoing marriage-like relationship for two or more years (depending on where you  live), or
  • have a child together and a permanent relationship.

Calculating Spouse Support

Your payments are based on spousal support advisory guidelines. Since the guidelines are complicated. Axess Law’s family lawyers can calculate your likely contribution. Of course, the final amount requires court approval.

Family courts look at:

  • both spouses’ finances, needs and circumstances
  • how long you lived together
  • your roles, such as caregiver or breadwinner
  • how your roles and breakup affect your money
  • your children’s needs
  • spousal support previous orders, agreements or arrangements.

As long as you both work, earn about the same and don’t have expenses like a special needs child, you could be excused. 

Do You Have to Support a Stay-at Home Spouse?

Shouldn’t your spouse pitch in financially?

Family courts require spouses to be self-sufficient asap. Naturally, a stay-at-home spouse who looked after the kids for 10 years may have trouble finding work. It could take time (months, years?) to retrain or get a job that covers child care costs.

If that’s your situation, you may have to support your spouse while they care for the kids or look for work. After all, your spouse sacrificed their career to care for the kids, a choice you probably made together.

And Pay Child Support on Top?

It depends on your income. You pay child support first, then spousal support. So if you can’t pay both, your money goes to your children’s needs.

Pay Once or Pay Per Month

You could arrange a lump sum payment. That’s a one-time settlement. Otherwise, you will pay a monthly amount.

Money, Debts and Your Court Order

You lose your job and can only find part-time work. That $1,000 a month you were paying is 75% of your new wages. Worse, you have a lot of credit card debt. What to do?

Family courts understand your circumstances may change. Request to pay reduced support. While it may not be approved, you can at least make your case.

Not paying could land you in court. Or jail.

Will Your Debt Ever End?

Nothing lasts forever. Your agreement may have a built-in stop payment date. Otherwise, you could agree in court to end your payments because your spouse is self-sufficient.

How long you lived together, how old you and the kids are all factor in. If you’re both seniors, your spouse may have no easy way to make a living. On the other hand, if you only cohabitate for a short time, your obligations could be brief.

On the upside, you can deduct it from your income taxes.


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