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Spousal Support Lawyer

Spousal Maintenance | Petrelli Previtera

Spousal support is a complex area of family law, and having and lawyer to help you through the process can be invaluable. On this page, you will find information about spousal support, the role of a spousal support lawyer, and how to find one.

What is Spousal Support?

When you divorce, one of you may agree to pay the other ongoing spousal maintenance payments. Spousal maintenance is different from child maintenance. Child maintenance is regular financial support that helps cater for the everyday living costs of raising a child when the parents are divorce.

Spousal Maintenance vs. Spousal Support: What is the Difference?

Some people mistakenly use the terms “spousal maintenance” and “spousal support” interchangeably, but there’s a crucial difference:

Although both involve payment of money by one spouse to the other, spousal maintenance is typically paid after a divorce, while spousal support is paid while the couple is still married. As often is the case, a spouse seeks spousal support in a family court in the event that the other spouse is not meeting his or her support obligations.


Which Factors Come into Play When Determining Spousal Maintenance?

When a couple ends their union, the court will decide whether or not to award spousal maintenance. Maintenance payments are set either for a specific period of time or for life. In most cases, however, the court sets the payments for a number of years.

In most states across the country, spousal maintenance is gender-neutral. This means courts can, and do, award spousal maintenance to both men and women. However, in most divorce cases, men rarely pursue spousal maintenance. This is simply because men in the U.S., on average, continue to earn more than women. Add that to the fact that men hardly drop out of the workforce when children are born, and it becomes clear why many of those who seek spousal maintenance are actually women.

When coming up with a spousal maintenance decision, courts primarily focus on the earning capacity of each spouse as well as the couple’s standard of living while married. To decide on the amount, duration, and type of a maintenance award, the courts often consider the following factors:

  • Duration of the marriage: The longer the marriage, the higher the probability of getting a huge maintenance award.
  • The health and age of the parties: Courts tend to award larger maintenance awards in cases where one spouse is of ill health or considerably old.
  • The future earning capacity of both spouses: If one party has the ability to obtain education or employment and eventually become financially stable, maintenance will be awarded for a shorter period of time. The vice versa also applies.
  • Outstanding, additional expenses for the children: The custodial parent may be eligible to receive a large maintenance award so as to cater for the costs of daycare, schooling, and hospital visits for the couple’s children.
  • The equitable distribution of marital property: Most courts across the nation, including those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, often split a divorcing couple’s assets in a manner that’s equitable and just. This simply means that each partner doesn’t exactly get half of the assets. In the context of spousal maintenance, it means if one partner gets the matrimonial home, that partner might have to pay maintenance to the other partner to pay off his or her equity in the house.

Depending on a state’s spousal maintenance laws and the circumstances surrounding the divorce, the above factors may vary significantly. Also, there are additional factors that courts tend to consider when deciding maintenance payments, including a spouse’s need to incur training or earn a degree, the tax consequences to each party, and the property of each spouse.


Can a Spousal Support Lawyer Negotiate Spousal Maintenance?

Sometimes, a divorcing couple will agree to a spousal maintenance plan. In such cases, the spouses call upon the help of a family law attorney who helps them draft an amicable payment plan as well as iron out any contentious issues.

While the plan may vary depending on the circumstances of the divorce, most separating couples agree to higher payments for the first few years. This agreement gives the dependent party the flexibility to acquire training or pursue a degree that might ultimately help him or her earn a job. Once the receiving spouse enters the workforce, the payments are considerably reduced.


Trust The Spousal Support Lawyers at Petrelli Previtera to Handle Your Spousal Maintenance Negotiations

If you need help crafting a spousal maintenance plan, long-term or temporary, our award-winning family law attorneys are available to provide you with guidance. We have successfully helped many of our clients negotiate spousal maintenance terms and develop creative, well-thought-out payment plans. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.