When spouses begin the process of separation, financial worries often follow. How much support will I receive? How much will I be required to pay? Will our lifestyle suffer dramatically?

The law views spousal relationships as financial partnerships. When the partnership dissolves, the person with more income or assets may be required to support the other.

Support is divided into two distinct components: spousal support and child support.

Spousal Support

When determining how much spousal support should be paid, and for what length of time it should continue, the law requires judges to consider a number of factors:
a) financial means and needs of both spouses
b) length of the marriage
c) whether the spouse with the lower income needs to be compensated for sacrificing earning power for the sake of the marriage
d) the lower-earning spouse’s ability to become self-supporting

Child Support

When two parents separate, they arrange custody and parenting schedule for there dependent children. This may be divided equally (shared parenting) or one parent may live with the children most or all of the time (primary parent). Whatever the arrangement, both parents are required to share the expenses of raising the children through child support.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines specify the amount of child support to be paid based on the payor’s income and living arrangements.

Although this process can appear straight forward, there are a number of factors that can affect how support is calculated.  Income calculations include bonuses, employer-sponsored pension contributions and expense accounts. Income is not always limited to the amount reported on Line 150 of a payor’s income tax return. In situations where the payor parent is self-employed, additional analysis is often necessary. Accurately determining income is critical to this stage in the separation process, and obtaining professional advice is highly advised.

More resources:


Spousal support intake template from the book “How to prepare for divorce”.