How do courts determine spousal support (alimony)?

Unlike child support, there is no guideline for spousal support. Courts may refer to a guideline for spousal support when setting temporary support orders. However, permanent support orders are not subject to the guideline. It is a completely discretionary call in most cases by a family law judge.

There is a checklist consisting of fourteen factors that the court is required to consider in determining the amount of spousal support. The key factors are:

  • The income and earning capacity of each party;
  • What was the typical marital standard of living of the parties during the latter years of the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage.

There are approximately eleven other factors, however these are the three main factors that most courts consider.