When Might Spousal Support be Required?
Spousal support was developed in recognition that following a divorce, one spouse may not be able to easily enter (or re-enter) the workforce due to a variety of conditions.
In some cases, such as if the spouse is educated, young, and healthy, the spouse may be able to become gainfully employed in a matter of months; in which case spousal support may not be awarded, or awarded for only a limited time. In other cases where the opposite conditions are true, a spouse may never be able to become gainfully employed. In such a case, spousal support might be payable for a lifetime (or at least until retirement age).
Factors Often Considered by Wisconsin Courts in Determining Spousal Support
In determining whether spousal support should be granted, Wisconsin courts are free to consider any factors deemed relevant. In our experience, courts often consider the following factors:
- Did one spouse forgo a career to care for the couple’s children?
- Did one spouse monetarily contribute to the education of the other spouse?
- How long has the spouse been out of the workforce?
- What is the length of the marriage?
- How long will it likely take for the non-employed spouse to become gainfully employed?
- What skills does the non-employed spouse have, and how will these skills translate to a job in the local market?
- How old is the spouse seeking support?
- What is the health of the spouse seeking support?
- Will the spouse seeking support likely need further education to re-enter the workplace for a meaningful job?
- What is the current lifestyle of the non-working spouse?
- What income and resources are available to the employed spouse to pay spousal support?
As a general rule, the longer that a spouse has been out of the workforce, the more that such spouse contributed to the welfare of the relationship (such as by financially supporting the other spouse or by caring for their children instead of working), and the better off the other spouse is financially, the more support will be awarded.
How Long Must Spousal Support be Paid?
As with the determination of spousal support, courts are free to order payment for as long as they believe is fair given the circumstances of the couple.
Seeking Definitive Support Payments
The general rule in Wisconsin is that the court may re-consider spousal support awards at any time, and for a variety of reasons. In such a case, support awards could be increased, decreased, or even terminated.
Spouses, however, may waive their right for support reconsideration, and instead agree upon the amounts and length of time for which support will be paid. Often, having this certainty will be beneficial for both spouses.
Advocating For Your Spousal Support Interests
As your legal counsel, we will seek to advance your interests with respect to spousal support.