What's reasonable spousal support?


My partner has been separated for 4 years. They’ve been working on the separation agreement for over a year but his ex keeps making demands. She was unemployed through most of their marriage, was fired from 2 jobs. She has made no effort to support herself. During the marriage my partner worked and did all the housework and cooking and caring for their 2 children. She contributed little to the family, instead spent large amounts of money on things like buying a pony without his consent. She has made statements to him that he needs to continue to be responsible for her.

She has demanded that he include the cost of health and car insurance for her in the spousal support until the youngest turns 18. Is that reasonable to expect him to pay for her car and health insurance after divorce? Does she have any obligation to get a job and do something to pay her own expenses? She keeps saying he should basically pay for everything she needs, including all living expenses. Does he have a legal obligation to do that?

Thank you for your time.


Unfortunately, alimony is very discretionary. Unlike child support, there are no guidelines or worksheets that dictate how much any spouse should receive/pay. There really is no way I can advise on a ‘reasonable amount’ of support. Our statutes provide a lengthy list of factors that a judge will consider before ordering an alimony award. They are as follows:

  1. The marital misconduct of either of the spouses.
  2. The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses.
  3. The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses.
  4. The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses, including earnings, dividends, and benefits such as medical, retirement, insurance, social security…
  5. The duration of the marriage.
  6. The contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other.
  7. The extent to which the earning power, expenses, or financial obligations of a spouse will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
  8. The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  9. The relative education of the spouses and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse seeking alimony to find employment to meet his or her reasonable economic needs.
  10. The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses and the relative debt of the spouses, including legal obligations of support.
  11. The property brought to the marriage by either spouse.
  12. The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  13. The relative needs of the spouses.
  14. The federal, State, and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  15. Any other factor relating to the economic circumstances of the parties that the court finds to be just and proper. and last but not least:
  16. The fact that income received by either party was previously considered by the court in determining the value of a marital or divisible asset in an equitable distribution of the parties” marital or divisible property.