Spousal Support Considerations in Complex Divorces

Spousal Support Considerations in Complex Divorces

When a couple decides to divorce, there are always special considerations that must be made regarding finances and assets. One of the biggest is spousal support, also known as alimony. In a divorce involving high net worth couples, this can be a large amount of money.

The divorce attorneys of Gearing, Rackner & McGrath understand the importance of spousal support and can help you and your family resolve a complex divorce with sensitivity and skill.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is a court-ordered payment to one spouse from the other when there is a discrepancy in earnings. It can be short or long term. Spousal support seeks to protect a financially dependent spouse from extreme changes in standard of living after a divorce.

If the former partners have similar incomes, spousal support may not be necessary. Some situations require financial support, however. For example, if one spouse worked outside the home and one stayed home to raise the couple's children, spousal support could be awarded to the spouse who stayed home, as they likely relied on the other's income.

The marriage's length, each spouse's contributions to the marriage and their future earning capacity are all considered when the court determines an amount for spousal support. Spousal support determination laws vary from state to state, but generally, each partner's need and ability are weighed and used to calculate support.

Types of Spousal Support


There are different types of spousal support to suit different relationship dynamics and potential outcomes. They are:

• Transitional support
• Compensatory support
• Spousal maintenance

Transitional support is awarded when one spouse will be able to become financially independent with time. It is shorter-term and allows the recipient to receive the education or training they need to enter a career and/or time to secure an adequate job.

Compensatory support may be awarded when one spouse has sacrificed their earning potential for their spouse and family. This could be appropriate when one partner was a stay-at-home parent or if one worked to finance the other's education or training, and then they divorce. This also could occur when someone pursues a law, medical or doctorate degree. It is intended to repay the spouse who contributed to the other's earning potential during their marriage.

Spousal maintenance is awarded when the spouse with less income will need spousal support payments to maintain the standard of living to which they became accustomed during the marriage. This could be because they are older, disabled, or for some other reason unable to work or make a substantial enough income. Spousal maintenance is typically given when the couple was married for a long time.

Complex Divorce Issues

When you and your spouse have a high net worth or complex assets, a divorce's financial aspects are often intensified. To protect yourself, your assets and your financial future, it is vital to get the help of an experienced divorce attorney.

A spousal support order can be modified at any point after the divorce if it can be shown that the earnings of one of the spouses have changed. Often spousal support payments will end when the receiving spouse remarries, but this is not always the case. For example, in Oregon, the courts will consider the new couple's earning potential and whether this has improved the support receiver's financial condition before deciding to sever an existing spousal support order.

Complex Divorce Attorneys Ready to Help

The family law and divorce attorneys at Gearing, Rackner & McGrath are familiar with complex divorce issues. They are ready to help you through the divorce process and can answer any questions you may have regarding your case.

To schedule an appointment with one of our experienced family law attorneys in Oregon and SW Washington, call (503) 222-9116.