How long does spousal support last?

Craig’s Answer:

It depends on the circumstances and the agreement between the parties, if there is one. There are two types of spousal support. “Temporary” support is paid during the divorce process and ends with a final divorce order. “Permanent” support may or may not be truly permanent and depends on a number of factors.

If there is a binding agreement between the parties that the payments will last a lifetime (whether or not there is a remarriage or changed circumstances) the alimony really is permanent. The court order may spell out a specific time limit for payments.

Generally spousal support is considered “rehabilitative” and is expected to remain in effect until the supported spouse is expected to be able to support a lifestyle he or she enjoyed during the marriage. This period would include any training, education, job search and career advancement until the person becomes self-supporting.

If the marriage was a lengthy one, and the supported spouse was out of the workforce for many years, or the supported spouse has serious health problems or is elderly, there may be lifetime spousal support awarded because there’s no realistic expectation of joining the workforce.

If the supported spouse,

  • Remarries, unless there is a written agreement otherwise, the obligation to pay spousal support ends.
  • Cohabitates with a member of the opposite sex in a committed, romantic relationship, or advances sufficiently professionally with a corresponding increase in income and resources, a judge may issue an order ending (or reducing) the spousal support.

If you receive or pay spousal support and have questions about how or when those payments might cease, contact our office through our evaluation form so we can start to discuss your case and how the law applies to you.

Posted in: Divorce, Family Law, Spousal Support / Alimony