What Is Spousal Support?

The holidays can often be a difficult reminder of relational tensions. Whether you are thinking about getting a divorce to solve these tensions, or if you are in the process of getting divorced, it is important to know what can be involved. One factor of this process that can be life-altering is spousal support. While this topic is widely known to some, it can be complicated and misunderstood by others. For these reasons, we’ve provided more info on the subject below.

Understanding Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is the legal agreement in which a divorcing or separating spouse pays a set amount of money for a limited time to another spouse.

A judge will decide the alimony amount paid and the length of time based on the spouse’s needs and ability. There is not necessarily any alimony calculator, and the judge ultimately has flexibility over the results. Generally, women have favored when it comes to receiving spousal support, but either person in a divorce may ultimately receive it. Ex-spouses in an annulled marriage do not qualify for alimony.

Utah’s state government has listed the below factors as items that can be considered when determining spousal support.

  • “The financial condition and needs of the party who would receive alimony. This includes the recipient's monthly debts and obligations and their ability to pay these debts.

  • The recipient's earning capacity or ability to produce income. This includes past employment history, ability or inability to work, and income received from all sources, including passive income. This also includes the impact of diminished workplace experience resulting from primarily caring for a child of the paying spouse‚Äč.

  • The ability of the paying spouse to provide support. This includes income from all sources weighed against their debts and obligations. As a general rule, debts may not be incurred to defeat alimony.

  • The length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the stronger the case for alimony.

  • Whether the recipient party has custody of minor children who need support.

  • Whether the recipient worked in a business owned or operated by the other spouse.

  • Whether the recipient contributed to increasing the other spouse's skill by paying for their education or by allowing them to attend school during the marriage.

  • The court may also consider each parties’ fault in determining whether to award alimony and its terms. "Fault" means any of the following conduct during the marriage that substantially contributed to the breakup of the marriage:

    • engaging in sexual relations with a person other than the party's spouse;

    • knowingly and intentionally causing or attempting to cause physical harm to the other party or minor children;

    • knowingly and intentionally causing the other party or minor children to reasonably fear life-threatening harm; or

    • substantially undermining the financial stability of the other party or the minor children.”

Temporary alimony may be awarded while a divorce action is pending, and long-term alimony can be a part of a final divorce decree. Utah, in particular, has unique requirements where an alimony order cannot last for a longer period of time than the length of the marriage. You can find more information on the factors that are considered in alimony on Utah’s provided alimony page.


Need Help?

If your alimony payments are underpaid or completely unpaid, and attorneys can help you enforce the order and fight to get you fair compensation. If you need help with alimony, your divorce or other legal circumstances regarding your relationship, Lokken & Putnam, P.C. may be able to help. With over 25 years of legal experience, we can help you get through your circumstances, no matter how complex. Call (801) 829-9783 to set up a consultation today.