The two main practical concerns in any spousal support orders should be: how much money will the supported spouse receive and for how long?
The general rule is that if a marriage is under ten (10) years, spousal support lasts for half of the length of the marriage. So, if a couple is married for nine (9) years, the supported spouse may be entitled to support for a period of four and one half (4.5) years.
If the marriage lasted ten (10) years or longer, the general rule is that support may last until the remarriage of the supported spouse, death of either party, or further court order. This language can create a support order that will last in perpetuity until one of the above listed conditions occurs.
The amount of money the supported spouse receives is determined by the marital life style of the parties and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay. It is very important for both the supporting spouse and the supported spouse to make sure the marital life style is accurately determined. A mistake in this part of the analysis can lead to a support order that is too high or too low.
The court should look at the income of the parties, their life styles during the time of the marriage which should include how many cars they owned, what kind of cars they had, if they traveled, had very lavish spending habits, or if the parties were very frugal. All of these factors and many more are considered by the court in determining the marital life style. The area where the parties live is also important. Generally, it may be more expensive to live in
Of course, these are very simple generalizations of a very complex area of law and divorcing spouses are wise to seek legal advise and further consultation on this issue.