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Understanding the types of spousal support

Spousal support is a court-ordered financial payment made from one spouse to another after a divorce. Sometimes, former couples can decide on spousal support themselves and if it is reasonable, the court may approve it. When they are unable to come to an agreement, the court will decide for them.

Types of spousal support

Permanent spousal support is generally awarded when the couple has been married for a long time and one spouse is financially dependent on the other. This may occur if one spouse worked outside of the home and the other was a stay-at-home parent, for example. These payments may be made indefinitely.

Periodic spousal support is paid on a regular basis, such as bi-weekly or monthly from one of the spouse’s earnings. These payments can be modified or terminated later, if needed.

Lump-sum spousal support is made as a one-time payment and no additional payments are made afterward. Spousal support may also be paid in gross, meaning that it is a one-time property settlement and cannot be modified later.

Temporary spousal support is awarded while the divorce is ongoing to help the spouse in financial need until a permanent support order is issued. Rehabilitative spousal support is paid to one spouse until he or she is able to find a job or complete their education, allowing them to become financially independent.


The court may consider several factors when awarding spousal support. These include the length of the marriage and how the assets are divided, either as separate or marital property.

An experienced attorney can answer questions about spousal support and provide representation.



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