Spousal Support Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Spousal Support, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Spousal Support?

(n) Spousal support is the money paid to the divorced spouse or to the spouse with whom divorces proceedings are initiated, as compensation ordered by the court, for their support. In no-fault divorce it is also called as alimony.

History and Definition of Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a legal obligation in which one spouse is required to provide financial support to the other spouse following a marital separation or divorce. Historically, spousal support was mainly associated with men providing financial support to their wives due to a gender-based societal norm that restricted women's ability to earn a living. However, in modern times, spousal support can be awarded to either spouse based on factors such as income, earning capacity, and standard of living.

The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that both spouses can maintain a reasonable standard of living following a divorce or separation, with the goal of reducing any financial disparity between the two. Spousal support is typically determined by the court after considering numerous factors, including the length of the marriage; the age, health, and earning capacity of each spouse; the standard of living during the marriage; and the distribution of marital property.

Examples of Spousal Support

  1. After a 10-year marriage, John and Jane got a divorce. Due to a significant discrepancy in their incomes, the court ordered John to pay $1,000 per month in spousal support to Jane for a period of five years.

  2. Following a separation, Samantha was awarded temporary spousal support from her estranged husband to help with living expenses and to maintain a similar standard of living until the final divorce settlement.

  3. Steve and Kate have been married for 30 years, and Steve has been a stay-at-home dad while Kate has been the primary breadwinner. In the event of a divorce, it is likely that Steve would be awarded spousal support due to the significant difference in their earning capacity.

Legal Terms Similar to Spousal Support

  1. Child support: Financial payments made by one parent to the other to provide for the upbringing and care of their children.

  2. Maintenance: A court-ordered financial payment made from one spouse to the other following a separation or divorce to help support the recipient spouse.

  3. Alimony: Financial support paid by one spouse to the other in a divorce settlement, similar to spousal support.