What is Spousal Support Law?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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Spousal support law refers to the legislation that regulates how financially disadvantaged individuals should be compensated in situations of separation and divorce. This body of law normally grants courts the authority to order one person to pay a certain amount of money to another. It may also restrict the terms and conditions that courts may impose on those orders. This type of law can greatly vary from one jurisdiction to another.

When married couples split up, there is a risk that one person may have an unjust financial advantage. Spousal support law is a body of legislation that is designed to make the separation of couples more equitable. Spousal support is often referred to as alimony. Both terms refer to funds that are paid by the individual who is in possession of the greatest amount of financial resources to the individual who suffers an economic disadvantage due to the termination of the relationship.

Alimony is sometimes agreed upon by the divorcing parties. In many jurisdictions, such agreements are reviewed by the court before they are finalized. It is spousal support law that provides courts with the authority to determine whether an alimony agreement is fair and if not to order that issue be reconsidered. This type of legislation also empowers courts to order the payment of alimony if individuals do not make agreements.


This body of legislation provides a judge with a means to determine who the disadvantaged party is. It also provides him with a system to determine how much the recipient should be paid. These determinations can usually only be made once certain required factors have been considered.

Spousal support law determines whether pendente lite, commonly referred to as temporary alimony, is legally recognized. This is compensation that is paid to the financially disadvantaged spouse if a couple is legally separated but no divorce has been filed or if a couple is waiting for their divorce to be finalized. If there is no provision in a jurisdiction's spousal support law, a court may not have the authority to order this type of compensation, although it can be arranged through mutual agreement of the parties.

In some instances, the terms regarding the payment of alimony may need to change. It is spousal support law that determines the circumstances under which the orders can be modified. For example, it is common for spousal support law to allow the termination of alimony if the recipient gets remarried.



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