Life after divorce can be difficult to imagine. Some people are hopeful at the idea of a new chapter, others are scared at the thought of starting over. But regardless of what you think post-divorce life might look like, you should feel confident that you have the resources to move forward. This means getting a fair settlement, which may include spousal support.

Spousal support is money paid from one person to another after a divorce. It is in place to help a financially disadvantaged spouse make the transition out of a marriage a little easier. As such, it can be helpful to know which factors will affect whether a person receives this support.

There are numerous factors courts will consider when deciding on a request for spousal support. Generally, they want to know if there is a need for support and if there is an ability to pay support.

To figure this out, they consider:

  • The length of the marriage
  • History of domestic abuse
  • Each person’s income and assets
  • Marketable skills of the person to receive support, as well as the job market for those skills
  • The amount of time and money it would take to develop the recipient party’s marketable skills
  • The standard of living maintained during the marriage

These factors and others will be critical in a court’s decision regarding whether spousal support is appropriate.

The court will also determine how long support will last. Often, the order is in place for a “reasonable” amount of time, which may be about 50 percent of the time two people were married (fewer than 10 years). Marriages lasting more than 10 years can be eligible for indefinite spousal support, though, this can be adjusted in the future by the courts.

Of course, divorcing spouses can work out their own spousal support arrangement through mediation or collaborative divorce.

Spousal support often is a contentious issue in any divorce, but having this information and the advice of an attorney can help parties pursue fair resolutions that give everyone a better idea of what life after divorce might look like.