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Is Spousal Support Still Available?

Many divorcing couples never even consider the issue of spousal support (alimony). Some may believe that in today's world of dual careers it has fallen by the wayside. These beliefs are inaccurate, however; spousal support is still an option in all states. Not taking advantage of this valuable benefit could prove to be to your financial detriment, so read on to learn some interesting facts about spousal support.

1. This monetary payment came about as a means to help bring equality to divorcing spouses that had passed up education or career opportunities to raise a family. While spousal support is not as common as it once was, the original purpose still holds true and is a valuable means of help for those who need it.

2. It is not necessary to be divorced to begin getting spousal support. With a provision in your legal separation agreement, you can ensure a smooth transition from living with your spouse to living single.

3. In days past, spousal support was sometimes linked to spousal wrongdoing, with it being a form of punishment for the spouse who cheated or exhibited other bad behavior. Some states now follow a "no-fault" model, but even those that allow fault to come into the picture never use spousal support as a penalty.

4. In most cases, the higher earning spouse is the one who will be ordered to pay spousal support, whether that be the husband or the wife.

5. Don't miss the opportunity to include a provision in your divorce decree concerning spousal support. Re-opening the petition once it has been ordered is possible, but it can be more difficult once time has passed. Once a provision is included, it is far easier to amend the order based on changes in income.

6. It has become increasingly uncommon for judges to order permanent spousal support, but even temporary support can last for many years. Temporary spousal support is sometimes referred to as rehabilitative support and is meant to provide a spouse with financial support while they seek education or job training with the goal of become economically independent.

7. Be sure to take this issue seriously and discuss all possible options with your attorney. For example, based on your particular financial needs, you may consider asking for a lower amount per month that lasts for a longer amount of time in lieu of taking a higher amount that last only a few years.

8. Spousal support is taxed as income, but it can also be used to boost your income and favorability on credit applications. Consider, as well, the possibility of trading spousal support for property, which may not have the same tax implications.

This issue can be complex, so be sure to discuss it with your divorce attorney.