3 things every man needs to know about spousal support
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

3 things every man needs to know about spousal support

If you are a man getting a divorce, you may be worried about having to pay spousal support. In the middle of this dramatic life change, this can feel like another thing piling on. You worry that your wife is finding ways to punish you, or that you won’t be able to afford a new life. It can be terrifying.

Fortunately, many of these fears are built on misconceptions. Spousal support is a serious obligation, but you can navigate it and share assets fairly. When you understand how the system works, you can make adjustments and move forward. What follows are three ideas for men to keep in mind.

1. It’s Not a Punishment

You may think of spousal support as a way your wife can get back at you for a failed marriage. Plenty of movies support this idea. The man gets a divorce, and the wife takes him for everything. She lives a life of luxury while he resigns to working until he dies.

Here, life does not imitate art. Spousal support is designed to help your spouse maintain a standard of living. If you make most of the household income, your wife will likely receive a support award to help her. It isn’t about you but about what is fair.

If she makes as much as you or more, there may not be spousal support. You may even receive a support order in your favor. These orders are designed to help both of you move forward.

2. It’s Not Forever

Courts award spousal support orders to help bridge a gap. The amount and duration will depend on many factors. If you have been married for twenty years, it will probably be awarded for longer than if you have been married for six months. More time dependent on a spouse for income affects the timing.

In some cases, a court can award a permanent order. This usually comes when your spouse is older, or unable to earn income on her own. If your spouse has earning power, the award usually does not last as long. You will usually not have to forego retirement to pay spousal support for the rest of your life.

The purpose of spousal support is not merely to deliver a new income stream. Divorce changes both of your lives. Suddenly losing access to money on top of it all might break a person. The order will allow your wife to keep living and give her time to find a path forward. It is not forever.

3. It’s Not Out of Your Control

Finally, you have some ability to work this out together. If you and your spouse agree on a spousal support award, the court will determine fairness. You can work together to decide what will be fair to you both.

Collaborative divorce provides one path to achieve this. Instead of fighting over the support order, you will work together. Each of you will have an attorney and access to a team of professionals to help. You will determine what you each have and need, and work to agree on the appropriate order.

This does not mean the process is easy. It requires hard work and careful communication. Still, if you can work together, you give yourself more control over the process. If you are concerned about spousal support in a divorce, contact Ogborne Law today to learn more.