As part of the divorce process, one of the most important items your lawyer will work with you on is the amount of support to be paid by one member of the marriage or partnership to the other.
“When your personal relationship with your spouse/partner and children changes, your financial relationship with them is bound to change as well,” says Portland lawyer Deanna Jensen.
“Although each form of support takes into account a variety of factors, including the ages of the parties, the length of the marriage/partnership, the earning capacity of each of parties, the need for one of the parties to care for children, the health of the parties, the education of the parties, the length of time one party may have been out of the workforce, and, to some extent, the award of assets, such as income-producing property, there is no set formula for determining spousal support. “Instead, it is based on what is considered ‘just and equitable under the circumstances,’ and the amount and duration of support is discretionary with the court based on the specific facts of each case,” adds Jensen.
There are three kinds of spousal support:
Transitional support is awarded so that a spouse can get the necessary training and education to allow him/her to re-enter or advance in the job market. It can be awarded in addition to an award of maintenance support. For example, transitional support can be awarded for a period of 4 years in addition to a maintenance support award that has a duration of 10 years. The amount of transitional support is added to the maintenance support to arrive at the total support award. At the end of 4 years the transitional support amount would terminate, but the maintenance support portion would continue until it terminated at the end of 10 years.
Compensatory support is granted where there has been a significant contribution by one party to the other towards education, training or obtaining job skills (i.e. law school or medical school). This type of support award recognizes one spouse’s/partner’s contribution to the other spouse’s/partner’s income and is generally for a period of years. It is a very difficult support award to modify. The amount of compensatory support is generally added to a maintenance support award.
Maintenance support is awarded from one spouse/partner to the other for a specified or indefinite period of time. This is usually the case in long-term marriages and registered domestic partnerships where one spouse/partner has significantly out earned the other. It is awarded in order to give the dependent spouse/partner an income or lifestyle not overly disproportionate to the one that existed during the marriage/partnership.