Depends on a number of factors. During the divorce proceedings (that is, before a judgment of divorce is entered), courts will normally order spousal support based on a formula adopted by the county (called “temporary” or pendente lite” spousal support). That amount is determined by child support calculation programs which have a spousal support component. The actual amount of support is based on the earnings of both parties (or sometimes imputed earnings if one party is not working to his or her ability), some deductions such as health insurance, mandatory retirement and some tax deductions, and a few other factors.
Once the judgment of divorce entered, “long term” or “permanent”
Spousal support can be ordered (or agreed to by the parties) which can vary in duration to a very short term to a very long term based on a dozen or so factors specified in the law, all of which the court has to consider factors such as the marital lifestyle, who put whom through school, the health of the parties, the length of the marriage, and many other factors. The courts can not use the temporary support formula to set long term support, but must consider these factors.
Because of this lack of specificity in the law, spousal support determination can be a costly endeavor in the courts.
In many cases the parties take the task of setting spousal support into their own hands and agree to a specific amount of support, or waive spousal support, in settling their case based on other considerations of their settlement. If the parties mutually agree to a spousal support amount, the court usually will allow their agreement to be made part of the judgment of divorce and will not second guess the parties.
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