Why Does Spousal Support Even Exist In Today’s Day & Age?

Spousal support, in one way or another, has been around since about 1745 BC. Yes, spousal support, or alimony, was first referenced in the Code of Hammurabi. The problem with this is that when the idea of spousal support was first thought up, it made sense. Women did not work and at some points in history, they did not receive an education either. They were to stay at home and take care of the house and the kids. That has since changed. Every day, more and more women become a part of the workforce. In some cases, the woman of the family is even the breadwinner, making more money than the husband. While spousal support was once necessary, it is becoming less and less necessary and the idea of spousal support is becoming less and less possible among younger generations.

What is Spousal Support?

Let’s start with the basics, what is spousal support? Spousal support is a payment made by one ex-spouse to the other, in order for the lower or no income ex-spouse to maintain a similar lifestyle to the lifestyle he/she experienced when they were married. When you are getting a divorce, your cases will fall into one of three categories:

  • No spousal support will be paid – Both members of the divorce are capable of supporting themselves financially.
  • Temporary spousal support will be paid – Temporary spousal support will be granted by the judge requiring the higher earning spouse to pay spousal support to the lower-earning spouse until he/she is able to find a job and financially support himself/herself.
  • Permanent spousal support will be paid – This is becoming more and rarer, but permanent spousal support is awarded when one spouse can prove that the marriage derailed their career path and they will be unable to financially support himself/herself. For example, if the wife gave up her career to be a stay at home mother and limited her earning potential, while the husband maximized his earning potential during those years. Another scenario where permanent spousal support is awarded is if one spouse has a disability and is unable to work.

Spousal support has become a national debate. While there is a growing number of younger people fighting on the side of doing away with spousal support, the older generation is holding strong, stating that it is necessary.

Is Spousal Support Necessary?

A growing number of people are beginning to question if spousal support is actually necessary. The best answer that can be provided is, yes and no. While permanent spousal support is becoming increasingly unnecessary as more women and men are furthering their education past high school, allowing them to get a well-paying job in a particular field of study, temporary spousal support may still be necessary in some cases. In the event that the mother or father gives up forwarding their career to become a stay at home parent, they may need some help getting back on their feet. In this case, once they are employed and are earning an income, the spousal support should cut out.

Another debate that is building momentum is the percentage of income that one ex-spouse is required to pay to another. The spousal support payment is supposed to be about 30% of the higher earning spouses income. In some cases, it has been reported that an ex-spouse has to pay over 50%; and that is on top of child support if there are children involved.  

Essentially, determining whether spousal support should be paid from one spouse to another should come down to what is fair. Spousal support was put in place in an effort to help protect an ex-spouse that is incapable of taking care of himself/herself financially. Spousal support should be paid when it is necessary and the payments should stop when it is no longer needed. It is not meant to punish one spouse if there was wrongdoing or just for having a higher income than the other. If you are looking for more information about spousal support, or you are looking to modify your already existing spousal support, please, contact us.